Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ask Linda #1374-Place ball an inch in front of marker

Hi Linda,
Can I ask a question please? 
I have noticed a practice that is as follows. A golfer is on the putting green. He marks, lifts and cleans the ball. Then when it is his turn to play, the ball is placed about an inch in front of the marker. The player surveys the putt and selects the line he thinks is correct to make the putt. The player returns to the ball, moves it back to the ball marker, lifts the ball marker and takes the putt.

My question is:
When the ball has been placed an inch in front of the ball marker, is the ball still out of play and therefore if it is moved by wind can that ball be picked up and replaced at the marker, which is still in the correct place and has not yet been picked up by the player?  

I understand the rule that if the ball was replaced at the marker and is moved by wind it would have to be played as it lies in the new position because it has been replaced and is in play.

I would be grateful for your opinion.
Thank you.
Lou from Skegness, UK

Dear Lou,

A ball lying on the putting green that is not in play would not be played from its new position if it were moved by the wind.

The ball is not in play if the player has placed it on a spot from which he has no intention to hit it. The player in your narrative seems to be placing the ball an inch in front of the marker temporarily for the purpose of aligning his putt. When he picks it up and places it directly in front of his marker, the ball is now in play.

However, there is another Rule governing this player’s action. When he places the ball an inch in front of his ball marker, he is touching the line of putt. This is a violation of Rule 16-1a, and carries a two-stroke/loss-of-hole penalty.

If the player wishes to place his ball on the green to align his putt, and he does not want to place it directly in front of his ball marker for fear of the wind moving the ball to a new position, he should place the ball behind his marker. A ball placed behind the marker is not on the line of putt and is not in play; the player would incur no penalty for touching the line of putt, and would replace the ball in front of the marker before putting, regardless of what might happen to the ball as it lies on the green behind the ball marker.

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