Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ask Linda #1056-Hit own ball and opponent’s in match play


Match play tournament, two-person better ball format. My ball was in a sand bunker and one of our opponents had his ball about a foot past mine closer to the hole also in the bunker. As I was away, I hit first. I did not anticipate striking this other ball in front of me, but it was struck either by my ball hitting the other ball or my club coming through the sand and coming up and moving my opponent’s ball. The rules official was nearby and said it was my penalty and I was disqualified for this hole. As we already had the match and just playing for points I did not really seem to care as my partner halved the hole. My ball wound up on the green. I felt it was not a penalty and that my opponent had to move his ball back to its original position in the bunker, which he did. As I struck my ball first then caused the other ball to move, was it a penalty?

Lou from Gainesville, Virginia

P.S. My wife and I have been reading your blog for years. Thanks.

Dear Lou,

You are neither disqualified for the hole (the official’s decision) nor blameless (your suggestion).

In match play, you incur a one-stroke penalty for moving your opponent’s ball in play [Rule 18-3b]. Your opponent must restore his original lie and replace his ball.

There would be no penalty in stroke play [Rule 18-4].

If your opponent’s ball had been a significant distance away, and your ball in motion struck and moved it, there would be no penalty. However, your opponent’s ball was near enough that there was a reasonable possibility that you might hit it. You had the option under Rule 22-2 to ask him to mark and lift his ball. Since you did not exercise that option, you cannot avoid penalty [Decision 18-3b/1].

Taking precautions in golf when the Rules offer you free protection is always wise.

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