Monday, December 14, 2015

Ask Linda #1211-Player steps on ball

If, in searching for a ball in long grass, a player steps on a hidden one and then marks the location and discovers it is his, is that ball deemed to have moved (perhaps vertically?) if it is not certain that it has moved?
Lou from England

Dear Lou,

If there were any doubt, it would be resolved against the player. Generally, you would have to assume that the ball moved if the player stepped on it.

Response from Lou:
Regarding this answer, I tend to agree with you and would tend to call a penalty on myself. But I feel it is solely down to the player to decide if the ball is likely to have moved in this circumstance, since nobody would have seen it and the grass might have sprung the ball back into its original position and it might not be certain that it has moved.

Again, I am fairly sure that most players would assume it had not moved (or overlook the possibility) and play on without penalty. Also, they could easily forget to mark the position before picking it up to inspect it, since it was hidden. The guy I was playing with was very surprised when I penalised myself.

And my answer:
Dear Lou,

I'm going to stick with my original answer [which has since been confirmed by a Rules official from the R&A]. Generally, when you have all these "maybes" and "might haves" and "assumptions," the player is penalized. A ball that is stepped on changes position just about every time. This is not a case where the player is entitled to the benefit of the doubt; it's possible even the player cannot accurately determine whether the ball was moved.  

The player incurs a one-stroke penalty for moving his ball in play [Rule 18-2a], and must replace the ball. Since it is likely he will not know the exact spot, he must drop the ball [Rule 20-3c].

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.