Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ask Linda #1311-Has the ball moved?

Next to the second green at a local course we have a shallow pond that has a rubber lining under it to retain the water, and on top of the liner is a thin layer of mud. In spots it's only an inch or two deep. With his ball just into the pond, a player, happy to get his feet wet, gently stepped in to play his shot. In doing so, the liner under his feet pushed down, but under the ball it went up, presenting his ball now high and dry. It remained exactly in place in relation to the lie and the mud it was resting on, but it clearly had moved “in space.” With no way to approach the ball without causing this effect, the player was confused whether any shot was legal or, if he played a shot, whether a penalty would be assessed. I would say that no shot can be played without playing from the wrong spot, but the player was adamant that the lie hadn't actually changed. What would have been the correct procedure?
Lou from Sydney, Australia

Dear Lou,

Surprisingly enough, the shot is legal. A ball has moved only if it leaves its original position and settles in a new position [Definition of “Move” or “Moved”]. For example, if the brand name is facing up before the player steps on the rubber liner, and is facing sideways after he steps on it, the ball has moved.

However, in your narrative, the mud on the liner was serving as glue. When the player stepped on the liner, the ball did not move in relation to the liner – ball, mud, and liner rose together as one unit. The ball is deemed not to have moved, and the player may hit it with no penalty [Decision 18/3].

If there had been no mud on the liner to hold the ball in place, and the ball rolled when the player stepped on the liner, he would incur a one-stroke penalty for moving his ball in play. There would be no penalty for moving the ball if he indicated, prior to approaching the ball, that he was going in to retrieve it in order to take relief outside the hazard.

My thanks to Lou from England who contacted the R&A for this answer.

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.