Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ask Linda #1438-Ball from off green hits removed flagstick

Hi Linda,

I have a question that I can't find a definitive answer to in the rules. I was playing a match against a guy, who was off of the green and chipping from the rough towards the hole. He told me to remove the flagstick, which I did, and I placed it off the green, on the fringe. His chip rolled past the hole, off the green, and then hit the flagstick. I know if he was on the green, he would have been penalized, but I can't say for sure what the ruling is if he is off the green when he made his stroke. I feel a little slow in the head for not being able to find the appropriate rule or decision that addresses this question, but I know that you will have the correct answer in a heart beat. And thank you, a hundred times over, your blog is my favorite reading, golf-wise.

Lou from San Jose, California

Dear Lou,

Rule 17-3 states that the player’s ball must not strike the flagstick when it is attended, removed, or held up. There is no mention of where the ball came from (on or off the green). Accordingly, the player incurs a two-stroke penalty (loss of hole in match play) if his ball hits a flagstick that is lying on the ground and has been removed at his request.

If you had removed the flagstick without his authority while the ball was in motion, you would incur the two-stroke penalty. However, this is an unlikely happenstance when a player is making a stroke from off the green, so don’t let this ruling confuse you.

There are a couple of instances where hitting a flagstick lying on the ground does not result in a penalty:
• A player’s ball from off the green strikes a flagstick lying on the ground that has been left there by a previous group or has been blown over by the wind.
• A player’s shot rolls up onto the green while a previous group is still on the green putting.

However, if the flagstick has been removed at the request of the player, the player is always penalized if his shot subsequently strikes the flagstick. Be aware that if you were still standing near the flagstick, you could have saved the other player from incurring a penalty by picking it up. A flagstick (regardless of whether it is in your hand or lying on the ground) may be moved out of the path of an oncoming ball [Rule 24-1].

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.