Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ask Linda #836-Lost ball in ditch

Hello Linda,

A player hit his ball into a ditch hazard. He elected to play it. It was quite soft where his ball was lying. The other player and I just heard a splat but saw no ball come out toward the green or get buried in the soft ground. The player thought he heard it land up around the green. We checked all around the green and could not find it. So we assumed it buried into the soft ground but could not see any sign if the ball did. He proceeded then to take a drop outside the hazard hitting his fourth shot. Should it have been considered a lost ball and he drops it back in the hazard near where he last hit it? Then he would have been hitting five and if he then decided to take relief outside the hazard he would have been hitting six.


Dear Lou,

Ordinarily, when a player swings at a ball in a hazard and no one sees it come out, there is virtual certainty that the ball is still in the hazard. However, this player thought he heard the ball land near the green. This would seem to rule out “virtual certainty.” Therefore, this player has a lost ball. He must drop a ball at the spot where he last played his original ball, which would be in the hazard.

Let’s count his strokes:
#1 – Tee shot into hazard
#2 – Stroke at ball in hazard
#3 – One-stroke penalty for lost ball. Player must drop a ball in the hazard.
#4 – Player decides to take relief and drops behind hazard. One-stroke penalty.
#5 – When the player hits the ball he dropped behind the hazard, it will be his fifth stroke on the hole.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ask Linda #835-Backswing hits lip of bunker

Hi Linda,
Whilst playing in a competition my opponent went into a bunker. She took 3 practice swings, then on her proper stroke hit the lip of the bunker on her back swing which made her stop her swing. Was that a penalty as it was her attempt at a shot out of the bunker?
Lulu from Scotland

Dear Lulu,

If the lip of the bunker is covered with grass, it is not part of the bunker. A player contacting a grass-covered lip has not touched the ground in the hazard. When this player contacted the lip with her backswing, she stopped her swing. She did not make a stroke, and she does not incur a penalty.

Don’t forget that the backswing is not part of the stroke [Definition of “Stroke”]. A “stroke” is the forward movement of the club with the intention to hit the ball.

If the lip of the bunker is not covered with grass, it is considered part of the bunker [Definition of “Bunker”]. In this case, the player incurs a two-stroke penalty (loss of hole in match play) for touching the ground in the bunker with her club before making her stroke [Rule 13-4b].

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ask Linda #834a-Replace ball lifted from bunker

Hi Linda,
I’ve not needed to ask you a question for ages as you answered so many of them for me last year. Thanks for your great continuing blog too.

Just an additional point on Ask Linda #834-Rake bunker, ball still in it
Yesterday, me and my opponent were both in the bunker 2 inches apart. He was behind me so I marked my ball. He took his shot, which buried my marker. We found it, raked the bunker (which I now see we cannot do from your column) and then I placed my ball where I thought it had been. Obviously, it’s hard to keep another person's marker in the right place when taking a shot very near it, so is it then acceptable to replace the 2nd ball in roughly where you think it was, and if agreed by both?
All the best,
Lou from Wales, UK

Dear Lou,

There is a difference between improving your lie in the bunker and restoring your original lie when you have lifted your ball because it interfered with another player’s shot. When you are asked to mark and lift a ball in a bunker, it is likely that your lie will be altered by the other player’s sand shot. You should always make a mental note as to what your lie looked like so that you are able to restore it prior to replacing and hitting your ball. That may involve some raking and sand sculpting (yes, you may use your hands for this purpose). You must do your best to re-create your original lie in a bunker, and you are entitled to use whatever means are at your disposal [Rule 20-3b (iii)].

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ask Linda #834-Rake bunker, ball still in it

Hi Linda,
Recently I played a foursomes stroke event where each pair played alternate strokes.
When a player hits in the bunker and the ball rolls back into the same bunker but in a different location well away from where it was hit originally, is it permissible for the bunker to be raked between shots?
With kind regards,
Lulu from Australia

Dear Lulu,

Yes, assuming that raking the sand where the ball originally lay will not improve the player’s line of play or the area of her intended stance or swing for her next shot from the same bunker.

A player is permitted to smooth sand in the bunker at any time, provided the purpose is to care for the course and she doesn’t help herself in the process [Exception 2 to Rule 13-4].

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ask Linda #833-Practice stroke moves ball on green

Hi Linda,

Will you please clarify how Rule 18-2a applies to moving a ball on the putting green?   Part of my pre-shot routine on the putting green includes standing in front of the ball, looking down the line of the putt and swinging my putter a couple of times.  I accidentally hit my ball the other day, but simply replaced it and did not take a penalty stroke, because I had not addressed the ball (my putter was not behind the ball).  One of my playing partners corrected me, and said that I should have taken a penalty stroke.  He also said that had I left my marker on the green behind my ball, and accidentally hit the ball during my practice swings that I would not have had to take the penalty.

Will you please help us get this straight?

Thanks very much,
Lulu from California

Dear Lulu,

A practice swing is not a stroke, since there was no intention to hit the ball. When you accidentally move your ball in play with a practice swing (as you did on the putting green), you incur one penalty stroke and you must replace your ball [Decision 18-2/20]. The ruling is the same regardless of whether your marker is still behind the ball.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ask Linda #832-Hazard complications

Hi there,
Hoping you can clear up something that actually happened.
I hit a ball over a pond/hazard. It hit a tree on the side of the hazard up in the branches, and then got flung back into the hazard without ever touching the ground. Has the ball cleared the hazard and the point of entry is on the other side of the pond, or is it deemed to never have cleared the hazard?
To make matters more complicated, on the side where the tree is situated, one area of the pond is marked with red stakes, and then it becomes marked with yellow stakes (really for another hole that runs along and approaches from that other side of the pond). What if it's not easy to determine whether it re-entered the pond/hazard over the yellow or red stakes?
Help! And thanks.
Lou from Toronto, Canada

Dear Lou,

This question is difficult to answer without personal knowledge of the hole.

By definition, the margin of a water hazard extends vertically upwards. If the ball hit any part of the tree that overhangs the hazard, your point of reference for determining where to drop your ball is on the near side of the pond, where the ball first crossed the margin. If the ball hit a part of the tree that is outside the margin of the hazard, it last crossed the margin on the far side, so your point of reference for taking relief is on the far side.

Please remember that your ball is in the hazard. Unless it last crossed the margin where it is marked with red stakes, your relief will be behind the hazard (i.e., you will have to hit over the hazard on your next shot).

You will have to decide whether the ball last crossed the hazard where it is marked with red or yellow stakes. I cannot make that determination for you. Do your best, and try to get some help from your fellow golfers.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ask Linda #831-Time for two searches

Hi Linda
A player in my foursome hit a ball into the rough and we spent three or four minutes looking for it.
My ball was about 20 yards ahead and also in the rough.
Do we re-set the clock at five minutes when we start searching for my ball?
Thanks for all your help.
Lou from Ontario

Dear Lou,

Yes, but please wave the following group through!

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.