Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ask Linda #703-Where is the ball?

Dear Linda.

Love your blog...simple and relevant, which is how it should be.

Question from England.  Our 18th hole has a lateral hazard running down the right and just beyond that, an out-of-bounds hedge. Last weekend in a crucial match, I sliced my ball, which crashed into the trees and fell out of sight. My partner and I believed it dropped into the hazard, permitting a penalty drop. Our opponents called it an Out of Bounds shot. Since the ditch was full of water, we could not find the ball. In the end we played again as OB and proceeded to lose hole and match.

In a situation like this, what should the approach be? Frankly it could have fallen on either side of the border. Who gets benefit of the doubt?

Lou from England

Dear Lou,

In order for a ball to be treated as lost in a water hazard, there must be what the rulebook calls “knowledge or virtual certainty” that the ball entered and remained in the hazard [Rule 26-1]. When you write that you and your partner “believed it dropped into the hazard,” that does not strike me as knowledge or virtual certainty.

Since there is no clear evidence that the ball was in the hazard, and the ball was never found, you have a lost ball and must proceed under stroke and distance [Rule 27-1].

It would not matter whether you labeled the ball “lost” or “out of bounds,” since the procedure is the same for both (stroke and distance).

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