Why did the PGA Tour star get a Mulligan?

Probably the worst joke in golf is when someone chirps up with 'one' after someone knocks the ball off the tee. We all know the rule, you tee it up again and carry on.

At this week's Waste Management Open Zach Johnson accidentally wafted his ball off the tee but there was no cause for alarm and he pegged her up again and hit it 290 yards.

So what does the rule actually say and when are you allowed to replay the shot?

The rule (6.2b (5), should you care) reads: “Whether the ball is teed or on the ground, when starting a hole or playing again from the teeing area under a Rule: The ball is not in play until the player makes a stroke at it, and the ball may be lifted or moved without penalty before the stroke is made. If a teed ball falls off the tee or is knocked off the tee by the player before the player has made a stroke at it, it may be re-teed anywhere in the teeing area without penalty.”

Had this happened on the green, again, he would have been fine: “There is no penalty if the player, opponent or another player in stroke play accidentally moves the player’s ball or ball-marker on the putting green.”

But, had it happened elsewhere, then he would have been in trouble.

But if Johnson accidentally hit his ball anywhere else, it would be a penalty under Rule 9.4.

Thanks to some research on Golf.com an article from the USGA’s website in 2019 explained things here: “This category would include a ball that lies in a bunker, a penalty area, or anywhere in the general area (defined as anywhere on the golf course that is not the teeing area, the putting green, a bunker or a penalty area). When your ball lies in any of these areas, it is already in play.

"If you then take a practice swing and cause your ball to move, you still have not made a stroke, but you will get a one-stroke penalty for moving your ball in play. The ball must be replaced on its original spot. This is covered under Rule 9.4.

“If the player instead plays the ball from where it was moved to after their practice swing, it becomes a two-stroke penalty (or a loss-of-hole penalty in match play) and the player may or may not be required to correct their mistake (see Rule 14.7 for more information).”

It's a good one and is probably regularly misunderstood so you have now been warned.