Friday, June 10, 2011

Ask Linda #310-Ball moves after club grounded

Hi Linda,

I play on a very windy course. We all know to hover the putter so as not to ground the club and if the ball moves in a gust we will not be penalised for causing it to move. Several times I have been told that it is taking your normal stance that determines that you have addressed the ball and not the grounding of the club. Their reasoning being that if you address the ball and stood on one leg or with one eye shut, for example, you would not have addressed the ball and therefore, even though you have grounded your club you would not be penalised if the ball moves. I think the act of grounding the club behind the ball means you could be deemed to have caused the ball to move and therefore you would be penalised, even if you had not yet taken your normal stance. Who is correct?

Kind Regards,
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

You are correct, Lou. Let’s look first at the definitions of stance and addressing the ball. You have taken your stance when you place your feet in the position from which you plan to make your stroke. You have addressed the ball when you have taken your stance and grounded your club. (In a hazard, you have addressed your ball once you have taken your stance, since you are not permitted to ground your club in a hazard.)

If your procedure prior to hitting is to ground your club behind the ball and then take your stance, you have not yet officially addressed the ball. However, because you have grounded your club behind the ball, you are responsible if it moves [Rule 18-2a]. You will incur a one-stroke penalty for moving your ball, and you must replace it before you hit it. If you do not replace it, the penalty is two strokes for playing from a wrong place.

You cannot avoid penalty for moving your ball once you ground your club behind it. In a hazard, you will be penalized for any movement of the ball that occurs after you take your stance.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.