Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ask Linda #1135-Improper dropping procedure

Hi Linda,

In a match play game, my opponent's ball came to rest on a sprinkler head about 8 feet from the green.
He asked for relief from the sprinkler head.
I said, "yes, no problem."
He then simply picked up his ball without marking it.
He dropped the ball and it rolled to about 1.5 feet behind the sprinkler head and about 1 club away from the drop. The sprinkler head would not have affected his next swing or stance. 
If he was to putt, the sprinkler head would have been an issue, but there is no local rule about putting and sprinkler heads.
He picked up the ball without marking it and re-dropped the ball.
The ball then rolled about a club behind where he dropped it and was going to roll down a hill but he caught it before he did.
He then just placed the ball next to the sprinkler head.

1. Should he have marked the ball as close to where it lay on the sprinkler head before picking it up?
2. Should he have asked for a ruling before he picked up the dropped ball?
3. Should he have then marked it before he picked up that ball?
4. Is he allowed to catch the ball after it had only rolled about a club away from the 2nd drop?
5. Should he have asked for a ruling before he picked up the 2nd dropped ball?
6. Should he then have asked where he should now place the ball?

Is it a loss of hole for any or all of these breaches?

Sorry. Many questions.
Lou from Australia

Dear Lou,

Many questions, but most of them are moot, as you will soon understand.

A sprinkler head is an immovable obstruction. The player is entitled to complete relief plus one club-length. He is not required to mark the ball before he picks it up, since he will not be replacing it on the same spot [Rule 20-1]. Nor is he required to mark the area in which he is permitted to drop the ball, provided that the ball, when dropped, hits the ground on a spot that is obviously in the correct area.

I’m going to assume that the player dropped the ball in the prescribed area. It now lies no closer to the hole, and the sprinkler head does not interfere with his stance or the area of his intended swing. Since there is no Local Rule providing relief for a sprinkler head on the player’s line of putt when his ball lies within two club-lengths of the obstruction and the obstruction lies within two club-lengths of the green, the drop is good, and the ball is in play.

When the player lifted his ball in play, he incurred a one-stroke penalty and was required to replace the ball [Rule 18-2a]. None of the lifting and dropping and re-dropping afterwards would have mattered if someone had told him he was required to replace the ball; had he replaced the ball before hitting it, the only penalty would be the one stroke for lifting his ball in play [Rule 20-6]. However, once he hit the ball that he placed beside the sprinkler head, he lost the hole for playing from a wrong place.

Looking at your list of questions, the answers are…
1. Not required.
2. Most certainly. A correct ruling would have saved him from losing the hole.
3–6. Not applicable, as he was not entitled to lift the ball after the first drop.

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