Thursday, January 30, 2014
Ask Linda #785-Player in a different group hits your ball
Yesterday we had an incident where one of our golfers in a stroke play round teed off, thought the ball may be lost, so hit a provisional. All her fellow golfers saw where the provisional lay. A male golfer came from an adjacent fairway as they were walking up the fairway. He went to hit the ball that all four golfers knew was our girl’s. We called out to him, but he disagreed. He pointed to another ball close by and went ahead and hit the ball in question and continued on his fairway.
Our girl arrived at the spot and the other ball was definitely not her ball. The group was all 100% certain the other golfer had hit our girl’s provisional ball. She did not find her original tee shot.
Not been sure what to do, she decided to call it an outside force that moved her ball and drop another ball.
Was this correct, or should she have chased after the person who hit her ball, identified it, and retrieved it, or should she have declared it lost and gone back to the tee and hit her 5th shot?
Also, one of my fellow golfers in the same competition had a brain fade on the putting green. She was trying to hurry her game along, but in lifting her marker she forgot to put her ball down.
Can this be called an accident in marking, or does she have to take a 1-stroke penalty?
Lulu from Australia
The player’s procedure was correct. When it is known or virtually certain that an outside agency has moved your ball, you may replace the ball with no penalty [Rule 18-1]. If the ball is not immediately retrievable, you may substitute another ball. The ball will be placed if you know the exact spot where it originally lay; it must be dropped if you do not [Rule 20-3c].
Considering that the other golfer knew there was some dispute as to ownership of the ball, he should have taken care to identify it before hitting it. This was an ignorant and inconsiderate act. You may take solace in knowing that he will be penalized for playing a wrong ball [Rule 15-3].
Moving on to your second question, if a player lifts her ball in play without marking the spot first, she incurs a one-stroke penalty [Rule 18-2a]. A player is only exempt from penalty if the ball was moved during the act of marking and lifting the ball [Rule 20-1]. This was not the case in your scenario, so the player must add one stroke to her score.
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