Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ask Linda #1316-Fox moves ball

Hi Linda,

I was playing in an inter-club singles match. My opponent drove off the tee and her ball was seen heading off the fairway into a lightly wooded area. My caddy was first on the scene to find the ball unplayable amongst tree roots. While awaiting the arrival of my opponent and her caddy, a young fox had been attracted to the ball and had started to play with it. By the time the fox was scared away, the ball was no longer in the original unplayable position and my opponent was able to play the ball back onto the fairway, unimpeded, which she proceeded to do, having taken advice from a rules official.

Was that ruling correct or should the ball have been returned to its original unplayable position?

Many thanks.
Lulu from Edinburgh

Dear Lulu,

What could be simpler or more straightforward than Rule 18-1: “If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.” There was a witness to both the original lie of the ball and the shenanigans of the fox; there was no question whether the ball had been moved by an outside agency. Shame on the official for not knowing such a basic Rule.

You should have filed a claim on the spot [Rule 2-5], and settled the matter at the end of your round with the Committee (if you didn’t have the time or felt too flustered to find and show the Rule to the official). Filing a claim gives you the opportunity to search your rulebook more leisurely. There is no penalty for filing a claim that is overruled (which would not have happened in your situation), and you would have won the hole.


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