Friday, July 15, 2016

Ask Linda #1341-Hit wrong ball multiple times

Hello Linda,

Today I was playing in a Stroke Play championship and played my Tee shot on the 15th into a hidden area of the fairway, and unwisely did not play a provisional ball.

After searching for my ball for about 4-5 minutes, I was about to declare it lost when a fellow competitor found a ball with my markings (Titleist 2 with a black line on the circumference of the ball) located in deep rough. I identified the ball as mine by looking down on it and played a sand wedge to successfully advance the ball onto the fairway, again unsighted on the actual landing of the ball as I played it directly into the sun. Another fellow competitor signaled from across the fairway that he saw my ball land so I went to the location and again identified the ball as mine. I then played the ball to the green and when I went to the green to mark my ball I found that the ball was not mine. The ball was a Titleist 2 with a black line but now exposed was a sponsor's logo which I did not recognise. Clearly in one or both of the two previous shots the ball I played was not mine and I can only assume that the logo was on the bottom side of the ball and hidden from my view when I incorrectly identified it as mine.

On the assumption that the second shot I played (i.e. the one from the deep rough) was most likely the first time I played the wrong ball and assuming that my first ball was lost (we had already spent close to 5 minutes looking for it) I went all the way back to the Teeing ground and Teed off again, as I knew I had to rectify the rule breach before moving on to the next hole or face disqualification.

I then played 4 more shots to complete the 15th hole and recorded a score of 9 on my card (3rd off the Tee, plus 4 more shots through the green and then 2 penalty shots for playing the wrong ball).

In the clubhouse afterwards there was some discussion over the penalties taken with a suggestion that I should have added a further 2 shots as I had played the wrong ball twice.

Can you please confirm if I scored this correctly?
Lou from Wellington, New Zealand

Dear Lou,

Yes, your score was correct.

The penalty for playing a wrong ball is two strokes, regardless of how many times you hit the wrong ball (or multiple wrong balls prior to discovery). The penalty and procedure go back to the first stroke at a wrong ball [Rule 15-3b].

Do not count the stroke at the wrong ball, or any subsequent strokes. Since you did not find your original ball, which was hit from the teeing ground, you must return to the teeing ground to put another ball in play (the new ball may be teed). You incur one penalty stroke for the lost ball, and two penalty strokes for hitting a wrong ball. Count all your strokes in playing the hole with the new ball plus three penalty strokes.

Two suggestions:
• Many players draw a black line on the ball to help with alignment. If you want to be able to confidently identify a ball as yours, you should draw a personal mark in addition to the black line.
• Since a player is permitted to mark and lift his ball to identify it, you should do so whenever part of the ball is obscured (deep rough, sand, leaves, etc.). It only takes a few seconds, and can save you a world of troubles.

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