Friday, November 28, 2014

Ask Linda #956-Unauthorized attendance of flagstick

In a recent round I was just off the green but had elected to putt. One of the guys in my group was on the green not too far from the flagstick. I informed him I was off the green and while I did not specifically say I wanted the pin left in I thought it was understood. Also, I did not believe he was sufficiently close to the flag to deem he was tending the pin. When I hit my putt he quickly walked over to the flag and put his hand on it as if tending it. I hit one of my rare good putts and it was heading right at the hole. The ball hit the pin and dropped in but it did hit the pin while his hand was on the flagstick. So, I didn't ask for the pin to be tended and I didn't think he was tending the pin. He just walked over and put his hand on it after I putted. Would this still be a penalty?
Lou from Texas

Dear Lou,

When another golfer attends the flagstick without your permission or prior knowledge, and doing so might influence the movement of the ball, he incurs the penalty, not you [Rule 17-2].

Because this unauthorized attendance clearly influenced the movement of the ball (the ball struck the flagstick), the golfer attending the flagstick is penalized as follows:

In match play, he loses the hole.

In stroke play, he incurs a two-stroke penalty. The player who hit the ball incurs no penalty. If he hit the ball from off the green, he will play the ball as it lies. If he hit the ball from on the putting surface, the stroke is canceled, and the ball must be replaced and replayed [Rule 17-2, Penalty].

Looking at your situation (which I’m assuming was stroke play), your ball, which you hit from off the green, is holed. The fellow attending the flagstick is assessed a two-stroke penalty.

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