Monday, November 7, 2016

Ask Linda #1414-Substituted ball, wrong place fiasco

Dear readers,
Below is the promised correction to #1414. Thanks to all the helpful Lou's and Lulu's out there.

Hi Linda,

OK, I know a lot about the rules, but in this instance I can't find a definitive Decision. I was playing in a tournament and my opponent hooked his drive into heavy brush. We looked for it, and he picked up his ball and announced that he had found it. He replaced it, and punched it out to the fairway. Then, as we were walking out, I found a ball that looked like his. He sheepishly agreed that in fact that was his ball, said he was color-blind and got the stripes that marked his ball incorrectly. He then replaced that ball at the point where he hit the wrong ball, taking a two-stroke penalty and finished the hole.

Is there a penalty for announcing and identifying your ball and then admitting one’s identifying was wrong, or is it just the two-stroke penalty? I think there was deception on his part, but do the rules recognize that, or does he simply pay the penalty for hitting a wrong ball? Thanks for your help on this, and I love your blog. It's my favorite, BTW.

Lou from San Jose, California

Dear Lou,

If the Committee weighs all the evidence and concludes that the player has been intentionally deceitful, it may decide to disqualify him for a serious breach of etiquette [Rule 33-7]. Otherwise, see below.

If this player is, indeed, your “opponent,” meaning the two of you are playing a match, the answer is very simple. Your opponent loses the hole for playing from a wrong place. (See the lengthier penalty explanation below for stroke play to understand why the ball was played from a wrong place.)

The answer is much more complicated for stroke play. When the player lifted the ball he thought was his (but was not his), replaced it, and hit it, he played a substituted ball. This is now his ball in play [Rule 15-2], and his original is “lost” by Definition.

At the time the player hit the substituted ball, he did not know where his original lay, so the applicable Rule is 27-1, and he should have returned to the tee to hit a ball under stroke and distance. Since he did not, the substituted ball that the player hit from the heavy brush was played from a wrong place (two-stroke penalty in stroke play, loss of hole in match play, Rule 20-7), and a serious breach has occurred.

Up to this point, the player has incurred three penalty strokes, and his next shot must be from the tee. Everything he did afterwards [picking up his original ball (which is no longer his ball in play), placing it where the stray ball was and playing it from there] is immaterial – if the player tees off on the next hole without correcting his mistake (by playing another ball from the tee of the hole in question), he will be disqualified for a serious breach of Rule 20-7c.

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