Monday, December 21, 2015

Ask Linda #1216-Player removes and replaces attended flagstick

Dear Linda,

I am writing to you from sunny Cape Town, South Africa, and it would be appreciated if you could provide us with a ruling on the following incident. It happened over the weekend at our home course at Durbanville.

We were playing in a Four-Ball Better Ball competition and my partner was just short of the green on a par 4 for 2 shots (approx. one meter short of the green). He elected to putt. One of the opposition players was standing next to the pin (within arm’s reach) facing my partner. My partner was aware that the other player was standing next to the flagstick prior to making his stroke, and he had no objection to the guy attending the pin. As my partner putted, the player next to the pin removed the pin. As the ball approached the pin, the guy attending it, according to him, got confused as to whether he was allowed to attend the pin, and he replaced it again. The ball hit the flagstick and went straight into the hole.

Who must add penalties to their scores and how many?

My original thought was that my partner should be penalized 2 shots for hitting the pin, but what of the guy who replaced the pin? I do not think it was his intention to influence my partner’s ball, but yet he did. I cannot find a ruling anywhere as to where the pin was removed and then, as the ball is in motion, replaced again.

Your assistance would be much appreciated. As I am completely useless with computers and do not know how a blog works, it would be appreciated if you would consider replying to my e-mail address.

Thank you very much and kind regards,
Lou from Cape Town, South Africa

Dear Lou,

Your original thought was correct, Lou. Your partner is penalized two strokes for hitting an attended flagstick [Rule 17-3a]. There is no penalty to the player who botched the job of attending the flagstick.

Your partner was aware that the flagstick was being attended, and made no objection. Thus, the attendance was authorized. If he did not want the flagstick attended, it was his responsibility to ask the player to step away and leave the flagstick in (or out) of the hole.

Once a flagstick is being attended, it cannot be “unattended” by the player who replaces the flagstick in the hole and steps away while the ball is in motion. An attended flagstick is attended from the time the ball is struck until the ball comes to rest, regardless of whether it is held, placed on the green, or removed and replaced.

Attending the flagstick is an important responsibility, and should not be taken lightly. The flagstick attender must understand that if the player’s ball strikes the flagstick or the attender, the player putting will incur the penalty (loss of hole/two strokes). The attender must remain motionless and attentive prior to the putt, and then remove the flagstick and himself from the path of the ball before it reaches him.

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