Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ask Linda #1299-Player abandons ball played under stroke and distance when original is found

On a 400-yard par 4 one our group hit his drive 225 or so to the right of a small tree which was about 20 yards in bounds. Four of us look for the ball, an old cart path was out there, we went up 20 to 30 yards, no ball anywhere. He goes back hits another ball & we play up to the green and there is his ball about 20 yards off the green. He chips up and putts for a birdie with his original ball. Was he right or wrong? He got the money and some of the guys were pretty teed off.
Lou from Petersburg, Illinois

Dear Lou,

That money would have stayed in your pocket if someone in your group had bothered to open a rulebook. Rule 27-1 states quite plainly that if a player returns to where he hit his previous shot to play another ball, he is deemed to have played under penalty of stroke and distance. And the Definition of “Lost Ball” states that the original ball is deemed “lost” whenever a player puts a ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance.

When the player returned to the tee and hit another ball, that ball became the ball in play. Count the first drive, one penalty stroke, the second drive, and all subsequent shots with that second ball. The original ball was lost under the Rules; the player was not permitted to continue playing that ball.

When the player hit his original ball (the ball 20 yards from the green), he hit a “wrong ball” [Definition of “Wrong Ball”]. In match play, he loses the hole. In stroke play, he incurs a two-stroke penalty and must continue play with the correct ball (his second drive). If he does not, and tees off on the next hole, he is disqualified [Rule 15-3].

A costly lesson, but perhaps well worth the price. Always carry a rulebook in your golf bag, and don’t be afraid to open it.

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