Friday, November 13, 2015

Ask Linda #1191-Identical markings on different balls

How about this one? Two-day competition. Player A loses his ball in a lateral hazard area. He always plays the same ball with the same green dot on top. Later that afternoon player B loses his ball in the same hazard and finds a ball (player A's lost ball).
The next day on the 18th hole both players hit their tee shot in a wooded area near an out of bounds. Player A finds his ball with the green dot and announces that he found his ball. The other ball seems lost. Player B goes back to the tee and plays the hole. Upon arriving at the green, Player A picks up the ball on the green and notices a red dot on the back of the ball and announces such. Player B says "that's my first ball." That's when they find out that player B put into play on the 18th hole the ball which he found the previous day which belonged to Player A. Player B did put an additional mark on the opposite side but only one red dot.
Does every player have to pick up their ball and ID it before they play…and if they did pick up…every ball… is there any penalty for doing so? 
Thanks, Lou
Dear Lou,
Every player should assure that the ball he is about to hit is his. Only on occasion does that require lifting the ball [see Rule 12-2 for the correct procedure to identify a ball]. There is no penalty if a player repeatedly lifts a ball to identify it, provided the player follows the correct procedure each time. If a player were to lift his ball every time before hitting it, he would run the risk of being penalized for undue delay (and he might have trouble finding people who wanted to play golf with him).
When players begin their round, they should mention the brand and number of ball they are playing and explain their identifying marks. Any time a player changes to a different ball, he should inform all the golfers in his group. If Player B had described the new ball he was about to put into play on the 18th hole, none of the ensuing problems would have occurred.
It takes about 10 seconds to announce a change of ball. Compare that to the time it takes to replay a shot because you hit a wrong ball, and to return to the tee to hit another shot because your ball was “lost.” That doesn’t even begin to take into account all the aggravating penalties, discussions, and possible procedural arguments caused by carelessness on the tee.
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