Friday, January 23, 2015

Ask Linda #985-Putt in match strikes ball on green outside the match

Hi Linda,
Question on Match Play Golf Rules please:
My friend Lou and I were in a Match Play type of contest recently. After 10 holes we were joined by a two-some that were playing Stroke-play between themselves. On the 18th green, my opponent hit a wild putt that veered strongly wide and struck one of the stroke-play balls.

My ball, his only opponent’s Match Play ball, was already in the cup. He did not hit his Match Player's ball. But he benefited much by hitting the Stroke-Player's ball. The wild putt was heading well off the green. Instead it came to an abrupt stop.

The spirit of the Match Play rule (there is no penalty for hitting your opponent's Match-Play ball when hitting a putt from on the green) contends that the Match Play opponent could have marked his own ball, so why penalize the putter? But in this case, I did not have the option of marking one of the Stroke-Play balls. Is there a penalty for the putter (my opponent) or not, is my question.

My opponent was probably right, no penalty, but I see reasons why this unique case deserves independent analysis.

Lou from Palmdale, California

Dear Lou,

Rule 19-5 states that a ball in motion that is deflected by a ball that is in play and at rest must be played as it lies. There is no penalty incurred in match play for striking another ball with a putt when both balls were on the putting green. So the answer to your question is that the ball your opponent putted must be played as it lies with no penalty incurred for striking another ball.

While you did not have the option of marking and lifting a ball that is not yours, you were well within your rights to ask that player to mark and lift his ball. Rule 22-1 gives you the right to have any ball lifted that might assist another player. Since you did not exercise this right, you are stuck with the consequences.

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