Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ask Linda #987-Ignore opponent’s penalty in match


A few weeks ago a friend of mine was playing a match. On the 16th hole, my friend thought that his ball was resting on the green so he marked it and lifted it. Once he did that he realized that his ball was really off the green, so he told his opponent what happened. His opponent told him that it was ok, that he knew that my friend didn't do this on purpose and asked him to go on playing. My friend won the hole.

On the tee of the 17th hole, one of the members who were watching the match told them that the 16th hole should be won by my friend's opponent, because once you lifted the ball you lose the hole.

I understand that in match play you can ignore for instance the place where your opponent tees off the ball. Could my friend's opponent ignore my friend's fault? After the hole is declared won by a player, could you change your opinion or decision?

Thanks for your reply.
Lou from Argentina

Dear Lou,

In match play, a player is permitted to ignore a breach of the Rules by his opponent as long as there is no agreement by both players to waive a Rule of Golf [Rule 2-5, Note 1].

In your scenario, both players were aware of the breach and agreed to ignore it. The penalty is disqualification of both players [Rule 1-3; Decision 1-3/4]. This penalty will be applied as soon as the Committee discovers the breach, even if that should happen after the result of the match is announced [Rule 34-1a; Decision 34-1a/1]. There is no time limit on penalizing a breach of Rule 1-3.

The members who were observing play were incorrect in their assertion that the hole is lost as soon as the player lifts the ball. The penalty for lifting your ball in play is one stroke [Rule 18-2a]. Your friend should have replaced the ball, added a one-stroke penalty, and completed play of the hole.

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