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No matter the result on Sunday night, it’s fair to say that Darren Clarke won’t ever forget his US Senior Open debut.

The 2011 Open champion, who became eligible for the grey-hair majors last August, was hit with a bizarre penalty during the opening round of the championship, taking place at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course.

After pulling his drive left on the par-4 tenth hole, the Northern Irishman found a bird feeder sitting directly in his line.

Fair to move – right?

Wrong.

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According to Rule 15.2, a player is allowed free relief from movable obstructions, but not from immovable. The bird feeders at the Warren course are considered immovable.

There is one exception to the immovable object rule, as outlined in Rule 16.1, which allows a player free relief from immovable objects and other abnormal course conditions – but only in instances where it interferes with their lie, stance or ball on a green. There is no provision for immovable objects in your line.

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As Clarke was talking to a rules official, his caddie was picked up by television cameras in the background trying to remove the bird feeder.

That cost Clarke two shots, a triple on the hole and contributed to a three-over 73.

All because of a bird feeder.

What. A. Palaver.


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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