Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ask Linda #1159-Player mistakenly lifts fellow competitor’s ball

Dear Linda,
Player A identifies his ball in light rough, hits it and two balls scuttle forward. A divot was taken so player A assumed the second ball was buried. Player B picked up Player A's ball and told him he was out of the hole. This was an individual Stableford competition. What should have been the correct course of action, and should Player B be penalised in any way?
Yours Sincerely,
Lou from Northampton, England

Dear Lou,

Let’s begin with Player A. His stroke at his own ball incidentally dislodged a second, hidden ball. There is no penalty to A. He has not hit a wrong ball under the Rules, because he hit his own ball [Decision 15/2].

Player B, mistakenly thinking that A had hit a wrong ball (two-stroke penalty), lifted Player A’s ball in play. Since this was a stroke play competition (Stableford is a form of stroke play), Player B incurs no penalty and the ball must be replaced [Rule 18-4]. If this had been a match play competition, Player B would incur a one-stroke penalty and, again, the ball would be replaced [Rule 18-3b].

Here’s hoping that Player A knew that he was entitled to replace the ball and continue play of the hole. If he simply accepted Player B’s misunderstanding and pocketed his ball, he would be disqualified from the hole in a Stableford format. Keep in mind, too, that if he were unsure how to proceed, he could replace the ball, play it, and let the Committee sort it out.

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