PGA Tour Official Clarifies Xander Schauffele’s Disputed Free Drop

At Glance

‣ Xander Schauffele gained a controversial advantage at the Wells Fargo Championship by receiving a free drop from the trees due to a ShotLink tower obstructing his path to the green, a decision that sparked debate among social media and golf enthusiasts.

‣ The PGA Tour and Senior Rules Official David Donnelly, with the assistance of Golf Channel’s Johnson Wagner, released a video explaining the ruling, emphasizing that Schauffele had a legitimate shot to the green if the tower were not there, which justified the free drop according to the rules.

‣ The specific circumstances of Schauffele’s ball being right up against the boundary fence and the absence of penalty areas meant that his only options were to take a drop out of the woods or to declare the ball unplayable, with the former being deemed a totally justified action under the circumstances.

Xander Schauffele? Oh, he’s really shaken things up this week at the Wells Fargo Championship. Picture this: he’s leading by four shots halfway through. But, oh boy, it’s not been a smooth ride.

First round drama, you ask? Schauffele’s tee shot on the par-4 eighth – yeah, the one right before the last for the day – took a wild turn. Straight into the trees. Normally, you’d think, “That’s rough,” right? But here comes the twist. He got a controversial free drop. Why? A ShotLink tower was awkwardly standing between his ball and the green. So, he moved from the trees to the rough. And guess what? He managed to save par from there. Talk about a stress-free par, huh?

Now, Schauffele himself admitted he got “lucky” with that drop. Meanwhile, the folks on social media? They weren’t having it. They thought it was way too generous. But here’s where it gets interesting. The Golf Channel’s Johnson Wagner and Senior Rules Official David Donnelly stepped in. They made a video to recreate the whole scene. They wanted to show everyone the crucial break that let Schauffele ask for that free drop.

Donnelly started off, “There was a number of things going on here.” He found the ball, in bounds, next to a boundary fence. Schauffele was eyeing his options, thinking about a punch shot to the green if that pesky tower wasn’t in the way. Wagner and Donnelly dove deep into the ruling. They even posted it on Twitter on May 10, 2024. They were all, “Yeah, it’s a clear shot to the hole. Totally a fair play.”

But here’s the kicker. If Schauffele didn’t have that clear window to the green, no free drop would’ve been given. And where his ball landed? Right up against the boundary fence. So, the only way out was out of the woods.

Wagner, getting all into it, said he’d definitely take the shot with a four iron. He even did a little practice swing. “No doubt in my mind,” he said. He was convinced it was the right call because they weren’t in a penalty area. The only other choice? An unplayable lie, but that wasn’t going to help much. Going back to the tee was the only other option, but Wagner thought the shot they went with was totally justified.

So, if you’re keeping up with the golf world, don’t forget to subscribe to the Golf Monthly newsletter. They’ve got all the latest tour news, gear reviews, and expert guides. You wouldn’t want to miss out, especially with all this drama unfolding.

Elliott Mitchell
Elliott Mitchell
Elliott Mitchell is a Golf Glance Senior Writer. After earning a degree in Sports Journalism, he joined the club in 2021. Elliott is in charge of Golf Glance's news, features, and travel sections, as well as the courses.

Recent Golf News