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”].

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