Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ask Linda #1164-Putt ball on top of another not removed from hole

Dear Linda,

Love your simple examples that explain "squirrely" questions! And I'm sure the rulebook and your blog address this situation, but I haven't come up with the right phrasing to generate the correct search.

During a friendly round of golf, I putted out a three-footer before the previous player had removed her ball from the cup. We were playing ready-golf, and I saw no reason to wait for her to walk 30 feet to the hole. She informed me that in tournament play that would have been a two-stroke penalty, because my ball did not actually hit the bottom of the cup. Should I have waited? Or asked permission to remove her ball first? 

I've also been told that a ball must hit the bottom of the cup, if the flagstick needs to be jiggled after a successful chip. What kind of penalty would be assessed if the "jiggle" were unsuccessful?

Lulu from Stillwater, Oklahoma

Dear Lulu,

There is no Rule that penalizes a player for putting her ball into a hole in which another ball already resides. By Definition, “a ball is ‘holed’ when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip of the hole.” There is plenty of room in a hole for two balls to snuggle below the top.

I like your reason for not waiting for your friend to remove her ball before you putt; I’m in favor of any legal action that improves the pace of play. Some players may prefer not to putt with another ball in the hole. That is their prerogative, and I have no problem with that either.

Any player may remove a ball that has been holed – no need to ask for permission.

All of this being said, I would suggest you not putt with another ball in the hole during a tournament, if for no other reason than to avoid a prolonged discussion about the legality of your action with an ill-informed fellow competitor.

Regarding your second question, keep in mind the Definition of “Holed.” If your ball is leaning against the flagstick, and part of it is above the surface, the ball is not holed. You don’t want to “jiggle” the flagstick – you want to push it gently in a direction away from your ball so that the ball falls into the hole. If you jiggle the flagstick, or you yank it out and the ball moves away from the hole, you must place your ball next to the hole and putt it into the hole. There is no penalty for moving your ball, since it has been moved in the process of removing a movable obstruction [Rule 17-4; Rule 24-1a].

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