Monday, December 1, 2014

Ask Linda #957-Wrong ball

Dear Linda,

Could you help, please?

In a recent club stroke competition, a player was playing with a Titleist 3 ball with a red dot. He hit his drive into some long rough just off the fairway of a par 4. He found and identified his ball and played a stroke at it. No player saw where the ball went. In looking around immediately in front of where he played his stroke from he found another Titleist 3 ball. He "identified" it as his ball. He played a stroke at it onto the green. On arriving at the green it was discovered there were 5 balls on the green. One of those balls was identified as the Titleist 3 with the red dot. The other Titleist 3 had no red dot.

The player ignored the 2nd ball he had played and played out with the original ball without penalty.

What should he have done and what penalties, if any, did he incur?

Thank you,
Lou from Australia 

Dear Lou,

When the player hit the unmarked ball (no red dot), he played a “wrong ball.” The penalty for playing a wrong ball is two strokes. None of the shots with the wrong ball will count in the player’s score [Rule 15-3]. When the player totals his score for the hole, he will count all the strokes with his original ball and add the two-stroke penalty for hitting a wrong ball.

I’m mystified as to why this player hit the second ball, since the first one had his brand and number and personal marking. This player had properly marked his ball; the second ball did not have his mark. What was he thinking? If he was concerned that he might not find the ball he had identified as his after he hit it, the correct procedure was to hit a provisional ball.

The importance of marking your golf ball cannot be overemphasized. Your personal mark will leave no doubt as to the ownership of the ball.

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