Monday, June 30, 2014

Ask Linda #871-ID ball in tree with banned rangefinder

Dear Linda,

During a recent golf competition at my club, we have what is possibly a “lost ball” situation as described below. But, we are not absolutely sure whether the ruling is correct that the ball is deemed as lost. Hence, I would appreciate your advice.

Here is the scenario:
a. In the conditions of competition, it is stated that use of range finder is not allowed during the stipulated round. Penalty is disqualification.
b. On a par 5, a player played his second shot and the ball hit a tree on the left hand side of the rough.
c. On reaching that location, he started to search for his ball. After searching for about 4 minutes, he found a ball lodged in the tree, about 12 feet above the ground.
d. As the player could not identify the ball lodged in the tree as his ball, he would like to use his range finder to assist him. But, he is wary of the condition that range finder is not allowed in the competition. So, he called for a rules official.
e. While waiting for the rules official to arrive, the player found another ball lodged in the same tree, which he could not identify it too.
f. The rules official arrived at the location about 2 minutes after the player has found a ball in the tree.
g. With the permission granted by the rules official, the player used his range finder to look at the first ball. As he could not identify that it was his ball (less than half the ball can be seen), the rules official informed the player that his ball is lost and the player must proceed under stroke and distance.
h. The rules official did not allow the player to identify the second ball lodged in the tree found in (e).

Here are my queries.
Q1. As per the definition of “lost ball” the first condition states that a ball is deemed as "lost" if it is not found or identified as his by the player within 5 minutes after the player has begun to search for it. In the above scenario, was it a lost ball situation by the time the rules official has arrived, as it was already 6 minutes since a ball was found?
Q2. If Q1 is a “yes,” is the player entitled to identify his ball with the range finder?
Q3. The rules official was making reference to decision 27/5.5. However, I feel this decision is not relevant to the scenario because during the entire 6 minutes, the player was at the same location. The rules official feels that the clock to identify the ball should be stopped at the 4th minute when the player had requested for a ruling on the use of range finder. He opined that the player is entitled for another 1 minute to continue his search or identify the ball upon arrival of the rules official. Your comments please.
Q4. Do the 5 minutes allocated to search or identify a ball run concurrently? In other words, in the above scenario, is the 5-min time allocated for the player to search for his ball expired when the rules official arrived at the location but the player has remaining 1 minute to identify his ball? Or, when the rules official has arrived at the location, the 5-min time allowed to search or identify the ball has expired? If so, by definition, the ball is "lost", when the rules official arrived at the location as it would be the 6th minute from the time a ball is found by the player.
Q5. Upon arrival of the rules official, is the player entitled to continue search or identify the second ball found lodged in the tree? Or, the second ball is immediately deemed as “lost?”

My apologies for a lengthy description but I was trying my best to give you a clear and accurate description of the scenario so that you can provide an informed ruling.

Thank you,
Lou from Malaysia

Dear Lou,

The player is entitled to search for his ball for five minutes. The player in your scenario found a ball that might be his within four minutes, but he was unable to identify it and wanted to use a prohibited rangefinder to assist in identification. He is entitled to seek a ruling from a rules official. Time spent in contacting an official to get a ruling would not be added onto the player’s five-minute search. The clock would stop at four minutes, and begin again when the player uses the rangefinder to try to identify his ball.

I’m not entirely certain why the rules official allowed the player to use the rangefinder to identify his ball. While the use of binoculars is permitted under the Rules, the use of binoculars with range-finder attachments is not [Decision 14-3/3]. Be that as it may, once the official gave the player permission to use the rangefinder as binoculars the player would not be penalized for doing so.

Since I wasn’t on site, I will have to assume that the official did not permit the player to try to identify the second ball because it was not found within the five-minute search limit.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ask Linda #870-Relief for ball unplayable in bush

Linda, there are some bushes in the middle of our fairway. The ball was hit into the bushes and, although we could get the ball, it was unplayable. Do you have to take the penalty drop within 2 club-lengths or can you take the ball back as far as you like (as long as it is in line with the flag)?

Lou from Birmingham, England

Dear Lou,

Rule 28 offers you three options for relief if you decide your ball is unplayable. Under penalty of one stroke, you may:

(1) play a ball under stroke and distance (your original or a different one);
(2) drop a ball behind where the ball lies in the bush on the line-of-sight to the hole; or
(3) drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lies, no closer to the hole.

If you choose option #2, there is no limit to how far back you may drop.
If you choose option #3, remember to measure your two club-lengths from the ball.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ask Linda #869-Original and provisional are identical

Hi Linda,
Here is a scenario: Player A hits a ball from the teeing ground and the ball goes in the woods. He announces to hit a provisional ball and hits one. The provisional ball also goes in the woods in the same vicinity as the original ball. He hits a second provisional ball and this time it lands in the fairway. Player A looks for his original ball in the woods and finds two identical balls next to each other with both his personal markings on it and in bounds. Player B asks Player A which one is the original ball but Player A cannot identify which is which. Since he cannot identify his original ball it is considered a lost ball and he needs to hit from where he originally hit his previous shot. If he's to go back to the tee box, is he hitting three or five from there?
Lou from the Philippines

Dear Lou,

The picture is not as dire as the one you paint. Since both balls were found (the original and the first provisional), the Rules feel it would be unfair to make the player return to the tee to hit his fifth shot. Accordingly, the player in this scenario is permitted to choose one of the two balls, abandon the other, and treat the ball he chooses as his provisional ball. The next stroke the player makes will be his fourth shot on the hole [Decision 27/11].

This scenario highlights the need to draw a personal identification mark on every ball in your bag. If the numbers on the balls are different, your marks may be identical; if the numbers are the same, you should draw marks that will differentiate them. When you announce a provisional ball, you should also state how the provisional differs from the original.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ask Linda #868a-Ball moved, original spot unknown

Dear Linda,

At the end of winter there are a lot of leaves and large pieces of bark under gum trees alongside the fairway. My ball landed in this debris. In order to reach my ball I had to walk on this unstable loose debris causing my ball to move several times before I could address it. I understand that I should have replaced it before making my stroke, but it had moved several times, and I couldn't determine where the original spot was, nor the several moves it had made. Should I just have given up the hole?

Lulu from South Australia

Dear Lulu,

Give it your best estimate where the ball originally lay, drop it there, and add one penalty stroke to your score for the hole for causing your ball to move [Rule 20-3c (i); Rule 18-2a]. There’s no reason to give up the hole yet.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Dear readers,
Please note that I have edited yesterday's column. The first sentence now reads: "When a ball in motion on a putting green is deflected by a moving or animate outside agency, cancel the stroke, replace your ball, and replay [Rule 19-1b]."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ask Linda #868-Putted ball moved by blowing leaf

If a ball putted on the green and still moving is deflected by a blowing leaf, how is it played?
Thank you.
Lou from Texas

Dear Lou,

When a ball in motion on a putting green is deflected by a moving or animate outside agency, cancel the stroke, replace your ball, and replay [Rule 19-1b].

If the same thing were to happen to a ball in motion that is not on the putting green, you must play the ball as it lies. This is what is known as a “rub of the green.”

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ask Linda #867-Sharing GPS distance information

Linda, is there a penalty involved if a player asks an opponent what yardage she has to the pin on her GPS device?

Does it make any difference if both players have a device but advice is still asked?? Do GPS devices have to be covered by a Local Rule? Can a player give "unsolicited" advice to another player about GPS distance?

Lulu from Florida

Dear Lulu,

Under the Rules, players are not permitted to use any device to measure distance [Rule 14-3]. If a Committee wants to permit players to use a distance-measuring device, it must establish a Local Rule to permit their use.

Information on distance is not advice [Definition of “Advice”]. Players may exchange information regarding the distance between two objects. Therefore, asking your opponent the distance from your ball to the flagstick is always permissible. Assuming that a Local Rule to permit the use of a distance-measuring device is in effect, sharing distance information is permissible even if both of you have such a device. There is no penalty if your opponent gives you unsolicited distance information. If you don’t want her to do this, let her know.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.