Friday, November 30, 2012

Ask Linda #566-Two players hit wrong ball

Hi Linda - I have tried to find the answer to this. While one person hitting the "wrong ball" seems clear, what happens in stroke play when two players play the other player's ball until they get to the green before realizing they have played the wrong ball?

My son was in a school competition where he and his fellow competitor approached balls on the fairway. My son hit a ball, and it went into the bunker. His competitor hit the other ball onto the green. There was some debate as to who hit first. My son then hit out of the bunker onto the green. Then the other player realized it was not his own ball that he had hit. A parent observing the match decided that my son should take a 2-shot penalty for hitting first. Each player played out the wrong ball and moved to the next tee.

My view was that both hit the wrong ball, both incurred a 2-shot penalty and both should have returned to where the first incorrect shot was taken from. Further, both could have (should have?) been disqualified for failing to rectify before the next tee off.

Your thoughts appreciated.

Lou from Melbourne, Australia

Dear Lou,

In stroke play, if a player hits a wrong ball, he is penalized two strokes. If he does not correct his mistake before he tees off on the next hole, he is disqualified [Rule 15-3b].

Both players hit a wrong ball. Both incurred the penalty, and both should have been disqualified as soon as they teed off on the next hole. Which player hit the wrong ball first is irrelevant; both players had the opportunity to identify the ball before hitting it. Your understanding of the Rule, Lou, is correct.

The ruling is not the same in match play, and this might be the source of the confusion. In match play, if two players exchange balls during play of a hole, the first player that hits a wrong ball loses the hole. If it cannot be determined which player hit the wrong ball first, the hole must be completed with the balls exchanged [Rule 15-3a].

Copyright © 2012 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ask Linda #565-Is ball on fairway or in rough?

Dear Linda,

Many thanks for many hours of enjoyment.

With a considerable amount of rainy weather in Ireland this year, many clubs permitted “preferred lies” on the Fairways.

Now, an issue arises when a Ball lies on the defining line of the Fairway and Rough, as, if it is said, (a) the Ball is lying on the Fairway and touching the Rough, the player may/may not be entitled to avail of the “preferred lie” or (b) the Ball is Lying in the Rough and touching the Fairway, the Player may not/may be entitled to the preferred lie.

As is the case in many Rules, if a Ball is “Touching”, say, a Green, a Bunker etc., the Ball is deemed to be on the Green or in the Bunker etc.

In relation to the above issue, where the Ball lies on the defining line, (1) is the Ball deemed to be on the Fairway but touching the Rough and therefore in the Rough, preventing the Player from availing of the “preferred lie,” or is the Ball deemed to be on the Fairway, or (2) is the Ball deemed to be in the Rough but touching the Fairway and therefore on the Fairway, thus, permitting the Player to avail of the “preferred lie,” or is the Ball in the Rough?

I would be more than interested in your view on this matter and any reference in the Rules or Decisions which may assist my understanding of the issue.

Kind regards,
Lou from Dublin, Ireland 

Dear Lou,

The Local Rule regarding preferred lies [Appendix I, Part B, 4c] refers to relief for a ball lying on a closely mown area. If any part of the ball is touching the closely mown area (fairway, fringe around the green, dew path, or paths through the rough mowed to fairway height), it is considered to be lying on the closely mown area. So if your ball is lying where the fairway abuts the rough, and any part of the ball is touching the fairway, it is on the fairway and you are entitled to a preferred lie.

There is no Rule that specifies when a ball is deemed to be lying on the fairway, so I referred your question to the USGA. A consensus of three rules officials agreed on the answer above. Here is the logic:

When the Rules define where a ball is, it is generally in that area if it touches that area. So a ball is deemed to be on the putting green when any part of it touches the green, is in a bunker when any part of it touches the bunker, is in a water hazard when any part of it touches the hazard, and is in casual water when any part of it touches the water. By extension, since the Local Rule for preferred lies refers to a ball lying on a closely mown area, it follows that a ball is deemed to be lying on the closely mown area if any part of it touches that area.  

Copyright © 2012 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ask Linda #564a-Alternate shot: Who hits provisional?

Linda, would the partner be allowed to declare the next shot as a provisional, so that the original, if found in bounds, can be played?


Dear Lou,

Yes. In an alternate shot format, if there is doubt whether Player A’s ball is out of bounds, Player B (A’s partner) may declare his ball to be provisional [Decision 29-1/3].

Copyright © 2012 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Ask Linda #564-Drive OB in alternate shot


Please help with this question.  Players A and B are teammates in an alternate shot format tournament.  Player A is the first to hit from the tee, and he promptly launches one out of bounds.  Who hits the next shot from the tee? 

Lou from West Virginia

Dear Lou,

Player A has had his turn. Since his shot went out of bounds from the tee, Player B will hit the next shot from the tee, and he may re-tee his ball. Player B’s tee shot is the team’s third shot on the hole.

In a mixed tournament, if Player A is a male hitting the tee shot out of bounds, his female partner will have to hit the next shot from the men’s teeing ground [Decision 29/2].

Copyright © 2012 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ask Linda #563-Break tree branch in backswing

Hello Linda,
I read your recent explanation about a penalty a player took because he moved a twig with his backswing while in a hazard.
You said the backswing is not part of your swing.
If a player is outside a hazard, I believe he is penalized if he breaks a branch or knocks down leaves while taking a practice swing, but there is no penalty if this happens during his real swing.
If you break a branch during the backswing, leading to your real swing, are you penalized?
Thanks for all your help

Dear Lou,

A detached twig is a loose impediment. A player is penalized two strokes for touching a loose impediment in a hazard at address or during his backswing [Rule 13-4].

Trees are not loose impediments. If a player breaks a branch on his backswing but continues his swing and hits the ball, there is no penalty. However, if he breaks a branch and discontinues his swing, he is penalized two strokes for improving the area of his intended swing [Rule 13-2; Decision 13-2/14.5]. This Rule is in effect everywhere on the golf course, including hazards.

Players are permitted to touch anything that is growing in a hazard, including trees, shrubs, or grass [Rule 13-4, Note]. This permission does not extend to leaves and twigs that have fallen off the tree. Such objects are not growing and are loose impediments.

Copyright © 2012 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ask Linda #562-Preferred lies, placed ball moves

Hi Linda
There is a local rule in our club allowing preferred lies in closely mown areas through the green.
My friend marked and lifted her ball. She replaced it and it moved into another lie near by. Can she take another preferred lie? We know that you only replace your ball once in preferred lies but she wondered if your ball moved -- could you mark lift and replace again.
Thanks very much
Best wishes

Dear Lulu,

When you are playing preferred lies, you may place the ball only once. It is in play as soon as it is placed. If the ball comes to rest where it was placed, and it subsequently moves, the player must play the ball from its new position. She may not mark, lift, clean, and place her ball a second time [Appendix I, Part B, 4c].

The only situation in which the player would place the ball more than once is if the ball, when placed, will not come to rest on that spot. In this case, she must place the ball at the nearest spot no closer to the hole where it will stay put [Rule 20-3d].

Copyright © 2012 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.