Wet conditions in the final round brought about a local rule allowing a free lift for a ball embedded "through the green"—which means the whole course except teeing ground and putting green of the hole being played and all hazards on the course.
Playing the 12th hole, a par 3, Palmer's tee shot became embedded in a mound above the green. Since it was "through the green," Palmer knew that he was entitled to a free lift. A nearby committeeman, however, thought the special permission to lift an embedded ball applied in the fairway only.
Palmer quite properly decided to invoke another Rule which applies in stroke play only, not match play, a Rule (11:5) which enables a player, when there is doubt about his rights or procedures, to play two balls and keep going so as to be sure to have a legal score: he may play out the hole with the ball as it lies and, at the same time, complete the hole with a second ball, provided he announces to his marker which ball he wants to score with if the Rules permit.
Palmer played his ball as it lay, and took 5 on the par-3 hole. Then, under the temporary rule for an embedded ball, he played another ball near the place where the first one had lain and scored 3. He immediately submitted the case to the tournament committee.
When Palmer was playing the 15th hole he was told that the committee had decided he had been within his rights and that his 3 had been accepted as his score for the 12th hole.
Here was a difference of two strokes—a 3 or a 5. Palmer won the Masters by one stroke over Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins.
In the 1954 Masters Billy Joe Patton showed his knowledge of the applicable Rule when, on the sixth hole, he hit his ball against the flagstick. He very gingerly removed the stick, and the ball fell into the hole for a dramatic hole in one at a crucial point during the final round. Had he yanked the stick out so quickly that the ball failed to drop in, it would have simply lain one outside the hole.
Another Masters tournament several years ago was the occasion for an unusual sequence of rulings involving Julius Boros.
On the 13th hole Boros faded his second shot into a brook at the right of the green. His ball lay in the water hazard in about an inch of water, in an almost impossible cuppy position. Running across the hazard was a metal water pipe which would have interfered with Boros' backswing if he had tried to make a stroke. He probably could not have played a successful stroke even if the pipe had not been there, but no matter—the Rules entitled him to relief from the pipe, which was artificial and therefore technically known as an obstruction for Rules purposes. Even though the ball lay in a hazard, he had the right to seek such relief as he could get from the pipe.
As luck would have it, there was a flat little patch of grass near by in the water hazard, and it was within two club lengths of the nearest point of the obstruction. Boros asked an official whether he might drop the ball (which is done, of course, by simply dropping the ball over one's shoulder behind one's back) on the grass in the hazard. He was assured that it would be proper to do so.