Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ask Linda #1444-Unable to approach ball without causing it to move

Hi Linda,
Thanks for your great blog!

Today my ball landed in a bunch of dead branches lying on the ground around a tree.

Walking towards the ball to fairly take my stance caused the ball to move. It was impossible to approach the ball to play it without it moving.

Are the dead branches an "outside agency," or was it me that caused the ball to move?

If it was me, should I have declared it unplayable and proceeded under Rule 28?

If I took a penalty and tried to replace the ball, that didn't work either, because the process of standing up after placing the ball caused it to move again. Also, any placement within a club-length would improve the lie of the ball – so Rule 20-3b(i) could not be used.

I've spent an hour reading the Rules and cannot find a definitive answer to this situation.
Lou from Melbourne, Australia

Dear Lou,

The fallen branches are loose impediments. When you cause your ball to move by stepping on a loose impediment, you incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 for moving your ball in play.

This is a situation that requires a discerning eye. Before you step on the branches, look over your lie and try to decide whether you will be able to approach the ball without moving it. If you suspect that won’t be possible, declare your ball unplayable before you wander in and move it. If you state in advance that you will proceed under the unplayable rule (Rule 28), there will be no additional penalty for moving your ball in play. You may now walk over to the ball, pick it up, and clear away any loose impediments from the area where you will drop your ball [Decision 23-1/6].

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.