T(r)ee troubles for Mane

On the par-5 fifth hole, from an awkward and difficult lie, Mane smacked the ball high onto the branches of a tree. The Indian pro had three options — to play the ball as it lies, declare the ball unplayable, or proceed under the lost ball ruling.

Golfer Udayan Mane climbs his buggy in search for his ball after he struck it onto a tree in the ongoing Take Solutions golf tournament.   -  Sudhakara Jain

Udayan Mane attracted the attention of curious onlookers with a shot that landed on top of a tree, during the TAKE Solutions Masters golf tournament at KGA course here on Thursday. The mishit, which held up play, tested the crowd’s knowledge of the rules of golf.

On the par-5 fifth hole, from an awkward and difficult lie, Mane smacked the ball high onto the branches of a tree. The Indian pro had three options — to play the ball as it lies, declare the ball unplayable, or proceed under the lost ball ruling.

Mane had no chance of climbing the tree and hitting a shot, so it was impossible to play the ball as it lies. Incidentally, this seemingly impractical option has has a few takers. In the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida, Spanish PGA star Sergio Garcia famously climbed a tree and hit a ball with one hand. Mane, safe to say, does not have the same adventurous streak in him.

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He was keen to declare the ball unplayable, as it would only result in a one-stroke penalty and an easy drop.

The third option, the worst of the lot, would require Mane to take a one-stroke penalty and to replay the shot from the original spot. This  would mean that Mane would have to face that treacherous tree once again, bad lie and all.

The 27-year-old pleaded his case for an unplayable ball to the referee, who was having none of it. The referee rightly pointed out that he could enforce the unplayable ball rule only if the ball could be positively identified. Though everyone knew that the ball was stuck in the tree, it was not visible to the eye, and therefore, it could not be positively identified.

Mane’s caddie then climbed onto the buggy in an attempt to spot the ball, but he couldn’t get high enough. Mane even asked the media photographers to zoom in and take a photo of the ball, as this would positively prove that the ball was indeed up there. Once again, no luck.

While these discussions went on, a friendly black dog – perhaps a stray – joined the fun and demanded the attention of the crowd. Mane, despite being under tremendous stress, stroked the content dog on the head and tickled its chin.

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The referee then informed the golfer that his five-minute time-limit was up, and that he had no option but to replay the shot under the lost ball ruling. Mane trudged back to the difficult original position, and this time, instead of trying to lift the ball over the tree, hit a low shot onto the fairway.

“Couldn’t he have played this shot to begin with?,” a spectator asked, evoking a smile from the genial Mane. The Bengaluru-based golfer ended the hole with a double bogey, and finished the round in tied-143rd with a six-over 77 card.