Darren Clarke was an unhappy camper on Thursday in the first round of the 2019 US Senior Open when USGA officials told the 2011 Open champion he was being hit with a two-stroke penalty.
The reason? Clarke’s caddie was seen trying to move a birdhouse on the host Warren Golf Course.
— Doug Schwimer (@Dougiefresh_21_) June 27, 2019
Clarke was talking with an official on the 10th hole of his round, when Clarke’s caddie walks ahead and starts trying to wiggle free a birdhouse staked on the course at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Clarke’s caddie mistakenly believed the birdhouse was treated like a movable obstruction that can be removed and moved in the event it is in the way of a player’s line. However, the birdhouse is considered an immovable obstruction because it is a permanent fixture on the course. Under Rule 16-1 of the Rules of Golf, a player can only take relief from such an immovable obstruction when the object interferes with a player’s ability to take a stance or swing the club — not the intended line of play (except on the green).
Since Clarke’s caddie violated the rule, Clarke is deemed himself to have violated the rule. The penalty is two strokes.
USGA officials told Clarke of the penalty later in the round, turning a bogey 5 into a triple-bogey 7. He was not happy to receive the news.