Friday, April 3, 2015
Ask Linda #1032-Player moves ball and declares it unplayable
I pulled my tee shot into a steep bank left of the fairway. The bank had been cut one week previously and was covered with loose straw. In searching for the ball I lifted some straw to uncover my ball. The ball moved a tiny bit. It was unclear whether it moved under gravity due to the steepness of the bank or whether it moved as a result of my lifting the dead grass. I decided to declare the ball unplayable and dropped within two club-lengths, counting a one-shot penalty. The question is should I have counted two penalty shots, a second one for perhaps causing the ball to move in uncovering the ball?
Maybe three penalties! One for causing the ball to move, two for not replacing the ball prior to measuring and three for declaring the ball unplayable. I did measure from the spot where the ball had been but I did not actually put the ball back on the spot.
Lulu from Belfast, Northern Ireland
The total number of penalty strokes is two: one for moving your ball in play [Rule 18-2a], and one for taking relief under the unplayable ball rule [Rule 28]. There is no additional penalty for not replacing your ball before dropping within two club-lengths of where it originally lay (no closer to the hole, of course).
If you had decided to play the ball where you found it, you would have to replace it before hitting. If you replace it, the penalty is one stroke; if you forget to replace it, the penalty is two strokes.
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