Monday, December 5, 2016

Ask Linda #1432-Golf cart rolls over ball in bunker

Hi Linda,
This happened recently…

Player’s ball landed in a bunker - with the ball sitting nice – no foreseen problem until…. Whilst getting a sand wedge from his golf bag on an electric trolley, the trolley was accidently switched on and it drove across the bunker unattended. As it did, it flattened the ball, embedding it into the sand and leaving three tracks made by the wheels across the bunker.

This raises a number of questions:

1. The ball has obviously been moved by the player’s trolley. Should an attempt be made to raise to ball back to its original position?

2. Does the ball have to be played ‘as it lies?’

3. Should the bunker be raked to achieve getting the ball back to its original position?

4. Should the bunker be raked to its original state before any attempt to play the shot to extricate the ball from the bunker?

5. Can the player declare the embedded ball unplayable and take relief, dropping or placing the ball within one or two club-lengths within the bunker?

6. Are there any other options available, e.g., going back and dropping the ball from where it was originally played?

7. Considering all the above, what penalties would be incurred?

I can honestly say in 40 years of golf I’ve never seen anything like this happen before. It was quite comical at the time – but none of us or our Pro knew what rules or penalties to invoke.

Your response will be much appreciated.
Yours in Golf,
Lou from Newcastle-under-Lyme, UK

Dear Lou,

When a player’s ball at rest is moved by his own equipment, he incurs a one-stroke penalty and must replace his ball [Rule 18-2 (ii)]. Since the original lie has been altered, and his ball is in a bunker, he must re-create the original lie as best he can and place the ball in that lie [Rule 20-3b (iii)].

Declaring the ball unplayable will not absolve the player of the one-stroke penalty for moving his ball in play. If he wishes to declare it unplayable (and I fail to see why he would want to), he will incur a one-stroke penalty for moving his ball in play and a second one-stroke penalty for taking relief for an unplayable ball. That relief would be a drop in the hazard within two club-lengths, a drop in the hazard behind where it lay on a direct line to the hole, or a return to where he hit his previous shot (on the teeing ground he would be allowed to re-tee; through the green he would have to drop; in a hazard he would have to drop in the hazard) [Rule 20-5].

The above should answer all your questions, but I will address them briefly below:
1. The ball must be put back in its original position; the original lie must be restored.
2. No. The player may not play the ball as it lies. If it is not replaced on a restored lie before the player hits it, he will incur a two-stroke penalty.
3. The player may use a rake to restore the original lie.
4. Same as #3.
5. Taking relief for an unplayable ball will result in two penalty strokes – one for moving the ball in play, another for unplayable relief. (It seems to me that there would be no reason to declare it unplayable, as the ball will be replaced on a recreated lie.)
6. This is an option under the unplayable Rule but, again, not necessary, since the ball will cease to be unplayable once it is replaced on the restored lie.
7. One penalty stroke for moving his ball in play. If he does not restore the lie and replace the ball, the penalty is two strokes.

It’s a little surprising your pro was unable to answer these questions.

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