Friday, January 16, 2015

Ask Linda #981-Player rides over ball in fairway

Dear Linda,

Recently, a player accidentally drove over his golf ball in the fairway with his cart. As a result, the lie of the ball was clearly altered as it was lying in a shallow depression in the fairway created by the weight of the cart.

We clearly saw the ball land and come to rest in the fairway. The player was distracted and just drove over it. No one saw the "exact" lie up close, but from a distance it seem to be in a perfectly good lie in the fairway. 

Aside from the penalty stroke under 18-2, a question arose whether rule 20-3b or 20-3c applied when replacing the ball. We decided 20-3b applied which allowed him to place the ball as per 20-3b (i). Our thought process was this: even though he did not know the exact lie of the ball before he drove over it, the ball was in the fairway and it was clear from the surrounding area that you could estimate his original lie.

When we finished I read the Decisions and none were exactly on point, but decision 20-3b/5 suggests that we made the wrong call. Although in that decision the ball was in tall grass making a clear determination of the original lie more difficult. 

Thoughts please. 

Thank you,
Lou from Marin, California 

Dear Lou,

Your procedure was correct.

The player’s ball was observed to be in a normal lie on the fairway. When he rode over it, pushing the ball down into the turf, he altered his lie. He incurs a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 for moving his ball in play and must place his ball on the fairway within one club-length, no nearer the hole [Rule 20-3b; Decision 20-3b/4]. When the original lie is known, the player gets to place the ball.

In Decision 20-3b/5 (the one you cited), the player’s ball, lying in tall grass, was stepped on by a spectator. The ball was not seen before the lie was altered, so there was no way to determine the original lie. When the original lie is not known and cannot be determined, the player must drop the ball under Rule 20-3c.

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