Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ask Linda #972-Dropped ball hits club

Hi Linda,
I had a curly situation arise recently that had many different “expert” answers.
We were playing the 8th par 5 and one of our group declared his ball unplayable. He measured out two club lengths and left his club lying on the ground. He then dropped his ball and before it hit the ground it landed on his club. After all the laughter we then argued:
1. Was there a penalty?
2. If there was a penalty what was it?
3. Should the ball have been re-dropped?
4. Would it have made a difference if the ball hit the ground before hitting the club?
5. Would there be a different ruling if this drop was for an OB or lost ball?
6. What rule/interpretation applies?
The player suffered plenty of ridicule, so we did not penalise him, but what is the correct answer?
I love your site and I find the actual real life situations a great way to further enhance my rule knowledge.
Lou from Australia

Dear Lou,

If any of the “experts” had opened a Rulebook to support his answer, he might have found Rule 20-2a, which states that if a player drops a ball that touches anyone’s equipment (including his own) before or after it hits the ground, the ball must be re-dropped, without penalty.

Since a golf club meets the Definition of “Equipment,” this player would have to re-drop. There is no limit to the number of times he re-drops – every drop that contacts his equipment must be re-dropped. One would hope that the player would have enough sense to move his club out of the way after the first drop.

Note that when a player uses small objects to mark the area where he will have to drop (such as coins or tees), those objects are not considered “equipment” when used for this purpose. A ball hitting such an object would not be re-dropped for that reason alone [Definition of “Equipment”].

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ask Linda 971-Provisional for ball possibly lost outside hazard

Hi Linda,

I am playing golf again after 25 years off. Learning the rules again is actually something I am enjoying. Thank you for your blog; I am finding it very informative and easy to understand.

My question is about playing a provisional ball when not sure if ball is lost in hazard or rough.

On my home course we have a par 3 that is 170m to the pin with a 140m carry over water hazard. 

The face of the water hazard in front of the green has a steep slope with heavy rough at the top. Some of the rough is in the hazard and some of it is not.

The other day my tee shot went into that rough. I was not sure if I would find it or not. So I declared a provisional. As it turned out, I found my tee shot just in play.

However afterward at the nineteenth hole a fellow competitor said I was lucky that my first ball was found outside the hazard as the provisional ball can only be played if ball is lost outside hazard.

I need some clarification on a few points. 

On this hole it can be difficult to know whether ball was lost in or outside the hazard. If I couldn't find my ball and I didn't know if it was lost in or outside the hazard, could I have played the provisional, as it is the same penalty – stroke and distance? (I must clarify here that the only option is to re-tee, nowhere to drop.)

I can't see the point in a long walk back to tee if I already have a ball in play under the same penalty of stroke and distance. To take this one step further, say I found my tee shot unplayable in the hazard. Can I play the provisional ball that I played when not knowing whether or not the tee shot was in hazard? Or do I have to go back to tee and reload because tee shot is in hazard?

Lou from Adelaide, Australia

Dear Lou,

You are entitled to hit a provisional ball for a ball that may be lost outside a hazard [Rule 27-2a].

If you find the original ball outside the hazard, you must abandon the provisional and continue with the original. Should you decide to declare the found original unplayable, and there is no place to drop other than back at the tee, you must return to the tee. You may not continue with a provisional ball once the original is found [Rule 27-2c].

If you find the original ball in the hazard, you must abandon the provisional and continue with the original [Decision 27-2a/2.2]. According to your description of the hole, this would likely involve a trip back to the tee.

If you do not find the original ball, you must continue with the provisional ball.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Response from Lou:

Thank you for the clarification on the ruling. I understand it now. However it seems like the rule wastes unnecessary time to me. If your ball is found unplayable in the hazard you walk back to the tee to play a third ball when the provisional ball you played thinking the ball was outside of hazard could be the ball in play under the exact same penalty of stroke and distance.

Also, regarding the virtual certainty of the ball being in the hazard, is this the sole responsibility of the player?

In my group I was the only one who thought my ball cleared the hazard. The other players thought it didn't. I announced I was playing a provisional and no one questioned me. However if they had said you can't because it is virtually certain your ball is in the hazard, I wouldn't have argued because I wasn't certain either way. Turned out it was in play by a couple of inches.

Thank you again,

Dear Lou,

I understand your opinion that walking back to the tee to hit another shot when your provisional ball is in play seems like a waste of time. I don't want to get involved in a philosophical discussion (you can do that with your friends over a beer at the 19th hole), but I will say that there is a reason for the trek back. A provisional ball is an option available to the player to save time in case his ball is lost or out of bounds. 

If the ball is found, the player must now follow the Rule for whatever condition the found ball presents – if it is unplayable, he must now choose a relief option for an unplayable ball; if it is unplayable in a hazard, he must choose a relief option for a ball in a water hazard. Otherwise, the player has too many choices. For example, suppose you hit an excellent shot with your provisional ball. In this case, you would be happy to continue play with that ball if your original is unplayable. On the other hand, if you hit a poor shot with your provisional, you might want another chance to play a ball under the unplayable or water hazard Rule. Allowing the player to continue play with his provisional ball gives the player too many chances. It is more fair (in my opinion) to have a specific rule to follow for each specific situation.

Regarding virtual certainty, I would suggest that everyone who watched the flight of the ball would have to agree on its location. If one player believes the ball is not in the hazard, there is some doubt.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ask Linda #970a-Follow-up to #970

Dear readers,
A reader from the UK made the following observation regarding Ask Linda #970:

Hi Linda,

The situation here seems to be the reverse of that described in Decision 26/2.

The course seems to be improperly marked and consequently, should the player not use the ‘natural boundary’ of the water hazard to determine whether the ball was in the hazard or not?

Happy holidays
Lou from the UK 

To which I responded:

Lou, the way I read this question, it was not a case of improperly placed stakes. It is not unusual to find areas of mowed grass within a hazard. Assuming the stakes are correct, the fact that your ball lies on mowed grass does not mean it is outside the hazard.

Sometimes it is hard to visualize what the reader is describing. If he had written that the stakes were insufficient or improperly placed, my answer would have been different. The workers mowing the grass are not experts on the Rules. I recommend using the cut area to decide the boundary when there are no stakes defining the margin or stakes have been moved, but not when the stakes are where they were originally placed (assuming they were placed correctly).

I must concede there are times when I have to guess at the reader's intention and answer accordingly. 

Happy holidays to you and yours,

In the event there were insufficient stakes marking the hazard, or the stakes were poorly placed, the reader’s follow-up explains very well how you should proceed:

Hi Linda,

Thank you for your prompt response.

I come across this frequently in courses with meandering streams. Strict application of straight line between course side of posts often makes part of the course in the hazard and part of the stream outside the hazard. This is often due to ‘lazy’ placing or insufficient number of posts (typically the latter). I raised this at an R&A rules school event here in UK and  the discussion concluded that where insufficient posts led to this type of situation then the ‘natural boundary’ should be followed. Insufficient in this case means that the posts do not follow the curvature of the stream or pond.

Kindest regards and Happy Holidays


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ask Linda #970-Determining margin of hazards and OB without a line

Hi Linda,

We have out of bounds and lateral water hazards which are concave into them. The green staff cuts the grass so that the mown area follows the circular shape. Consequently a ball can be on a mown area but using a direct line from stake to next stake can be out of bounds or in the hazard. What is the ruling? On our course they never use painted lines.

Many thanks,
Lou from Norway

Dear Lou,

When water hazards and out of bounds are marked by stakes only (no lines), the margin is marked by the side of the stake that faces away from the hazard or the out of bounds. In order to determine the location of your ball, stand behind the stake that is to one side of your ball and sight the stake on the other side of your ball.

In the case of the water hazard, if any part of your ball touches the hazard side of the line that you have visualized between the stakes, the ball is in the hazard.

In the case of out of bounds, if the entire ball lies to the right of that visualized line, the ball is out of bounds.

The condition of the terrain, whether rough or mowed, does not determine the location of the ball.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.