WATCH: Mackenzie Hughes Gets Ball Stuck In Tree At US Open

WATCH: Mackenzie Hughes Gets Ball Stuck In Tree At US Open

Mackenzie Hughes Ball In Tree
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mackenzie Hughes encountered an extremely rare situation during his final round at the US Open when his ball got stuck in a tree at the par-3 11th.

WATCH: Mackenzie Hughes Gets Ball Stuck In Tree At US Open

The 30-year-old, who was playing in the final group at Torrey Pines, had been going along nicely during his final round, making a birdie at the 9th and a par at the 10th to sit two shots behind leader Louis Oosthuizen.

However, playing the par-3 11th, the Canadian pulled his tee shot left, with his ball ending up stuck in the tree.

Watch the scenario unfold below:

Hughes, whose best result at a Major championship came at this year's Masters, ended up making a double-bogey five to move back to two-under-par for the tournament.

But what were Hughes's options? Well, he could have climbed the tree and played the ball, just like Sergio Garcia did at the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

However, the other sensible options were, if he could identify the ball, then he could take an unplayable ball relief under Rule 19, which, for one penalty stroke, allows the player three options.

Firstly, a player can take stroke-and-distance relief by going back to the spot where they last played and dropping a ball within one club-length of that point, no nearer the hole or, if they are returning to the tee, they can play a ball from anywhere within the teeing area.

Related: What Is The Golf Rule If My Ball Gets Stuck Up A Tree?

Secondly, the player may take back-on-the-line relief by dropping a ball in a relief area which is, again, one club-length no closer to the hole, at a point on the course which is on a direct line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball.

The final option is to choose lateral relief. Usually, this would involve dropping a ball within two club lengths of the spot where the original ball lay.

However, doing this when your ball is 20 feet off the ground in a tree might not be the easiest thing to do, so the Rules make an exception for this situation.

When a player’s ball lies above the ground, in a bush or a tree for example, the player can take lateral relief by using the point on the ground directly below their ball as their reference point.

Mackenzie Hughes Ball In Tree

Jordan Spieth points up into a tree where his playing partner, J.B. Holmes, hit a ball that did not come down during the final round of the WGC Mexico Championship. (Photo by Ryan Young/PGA TOUR)

The player would then be entitled to drop the ball within two club-lengths of that point, no closer to the hole.

It’s also worth remembering that, when taking relief in this situation, the Rules allow a player to substitute a ball, so there’s no need to go climbing to retrieve the original.

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x