Friday, March 20, 2015

Ask Linda #1022-Player moves ball on tee before drive

Dear Linda,

My question is; if you accidently hit the golf ball in the teeing area taking a practice swing, is that a penalty? Also if you are addressing the golf ball in the teeing area and accidently hit the ball, is that a penalty?

Thank you,
Lulu from New Jersey

Dear Lulu,

There is no penalty in either case. Here is an excerpt from Ask Linda #714 (posted on August 27, 2013) that addresses both of your concerns.

A ball is not in play until a player has made a stroke from the teeing ground [Definition of Ball in Play]. The mere act of addressing the ball does not put it in play. Think of all those times you address a ball and accidentally knock it off the tee. You have moved your ball, but there is no penalty because the ball is not yet in play. You are permitted to re-tee this ball and start all over again.

A player who accidently contacts his ball with a practice swing on the teeing ground may re-tee with no penalty. Again, the reason for no penalty is because the ball is not in play. However, after the tee shot, when the ball is in play, a player who accidentally moves his ball with a practice swing is penalized one stroke and must replace the ball [Rule 18-2a].

As I have mentioned in previous columns, it’s best to get in the habit of taking your practice swings a reasonable distance away from the ball. Not only will you avoid the risk of a penalty, you will not spend a beautiful day of golf arguing about the Rules.

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