Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ask Linda #1276-Move ball during search in leaves

Dear Linda,
On the question of accidentally moving the ball while searching for it [Ask Linda #1274], I would just like to say that we often help our fellow competitor by searching for his ball to speed up play even when he himself is also searching. In so doing, if you move his ball accidentally I do not think he is subject to disqualification. In Autumn, when the Course is full of leaves, particularly on the periphery of the Fairway, the competitor himself, or his fellow competitors trying to help him locate the ball, may have to use a golf club to sweep the leaves. In so doing, it may cause the ball to move. My understanding is that it should not result in penalty to anyone---the competitor or the fellow competitors.
Your views please!
Lou from Pune, India

Dear Lou,

There is a big difference between (1) asking your fellow competitors to search for a ball while you stand aside (or search far away) to avoid a possible penalty, and (2) everyone pitching in together to search for a ball. I’m delighted to hear that you often help another player find his ball. In both match play and stroke play there is no penalty if an opponent or a fellow competitor moves a player’s ball during search; if moved, the ball must be replaced.

Your belief that the player does not incur a penalty if he moves his ball while searching for it is incorrect. Except when a ball is covered by sand, in water in a water hazard, or in an obstruction or abnormal ground condition (see Rule 12-1), a player who moves his ball during search incurs a one-stroke penalty and must replace the ball [Rule18-2].

When there are accumulations of leaves, the Committee may adopt a Local Rule labeling such accumulations ground under repair. With that Local Rule in effect, there is no penalty to anyone (including the player) if the ball is moved during search. Please read Decision 33-8/31 for specifics about this Local Rule, and Decision 13-4/33, which addresses declaring accumulations of leaves in bunkers ground under repair.

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