Thursday, September 10, 2015
Ask Linda #1146-Relief from footprint
I was playing golf this last week when my partner played her shot into the trees. When we arrived the ball was in the heel of a huge footprint in mud, probably made by the greenkeeper as there was a track mark about a yard away. I thought she should play two balls, one with a drop and one as it lies.
She played it as it lay and had a super shot out so, of course, she decided not to play the other shot, but I would like to know what the correct decision should have been.
Footprints are a part of life on a golf course, whether in a bunker or in the rough. You won’t generally be entitled to relief from someone else’s carelessness.
Nevertheless, you have nothing to lose by playing two balls under Rule 3-3 (Doubt as to Procedure) and referring the matter to a Committee member.
However, I see a major problem in your narrative. The player may not try the shot, see how it turns out, and decide whether to play another one depending on the result of the first shot. Here is what you must do if you are not sure if you are entitled to relief and you would like to play two balls under Rule 3-3:
1. Announce that you plan to play two balls before you take your shot.
2. State which ball you would like to count if it is decided that your procedure with that ball was correct.
3. Complete play of the hole with both balls.
4. Refer the matter to the Committee before you return your scorecard.
If the player in your narrative stated that she wanted to play two balls because she wasn’t sure whether she was entitled to free relief, and that she wanted the ball that she dropped away from the footprint to count if relief was granted, she would have to complete the hole with both balls.
If the player made no announcement, and subsequently hit a poor shot out of the footprint, she would have lost her opportunity to play a second ball. She would not be penalized for incorrectly playing a second ball, but the first ball would be ruled to count.
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