Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ask Linda #1456-Move opponent’s ball in match

Here’s another question that reared its head today. We were playing Winter Rules – lift, clean and place on closely-mown areas within six inches no nearer hole.

Playing 12th – matchplay – fourball.

Game very close.

My ball in fairway (loads of leaves everywhere!!!) and my opponent, who is talking to my partner, walks over my ball with his trolley and moves it about three or four feet with his trolley/foot.

I tell him that I believe it’s a one-stroke penalty. I replace the ball to where it was originally and played the shot.

He genuinely thinks it is not a penalty. I further explain that we can defer to the committee on return to the clubhouse at match end, but if we waive rule we are both disqualified under Rule 1-3, i.e., we simply cannot ignore the fact it happened – if we do we are playing some other game which we call…………..NOT golf

Returning to the clubhouse the match captain and another senior figure on the local circuit disagree. They say as it was an opponent who moved my ball, and one says as it is match play, there is no penalty.

I disagree. I believe what I did was right.

1)      Advise the penalty
2)      Offer to let the match captain review the incident (rather than complete the hole and tee off, thus closing the door on my claim)
3)      Replace and play my ball
4)      Confirmed that should we ignore what had happened or accept there was no rule for this occurrence that we would be disqualified

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Lou from Wales, UK 

Dear Lou,

In match play, when a player moves his opponent’s ball, the player incurs a one-stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced [Rule 18-3b]. There would be no penalty if this occurred while the opponent was helping to search for the player’s ball, but that does not seem to be the case here.

I don’t understand why the gentlemen who were consulted disagreed on the answer. When a player is asking for a ruling, the officials should open the rulebook and find the answer. Rule 18-3b states quite clearly that this is a one-stroke penalty in match play.

There is no agreement between you and your opponent to waive a Rule, since there is disagreement as to whether a penalty should be imposed. Assuming the penalty would affect the outcome of the hole, you need to tell your opponent, before either of you tees off on the next hole, that you are filing a claim to add the one-stroke penalty to his score [Rule 2-5]. The matter will be settled by a Committee member (hopefully one who is not averse to reading).

Addressing your specific questions:
1. The penalty is one stroke and the ball must be replaced.
2. The door is not closed on your claim, provided you state that you will file a claim before anyone tees off on the next hole.
3. The correct procedure is to replace and play your ball.
4. There can be no agreement to waive a Rule when the players do not agree on what the Rule states.

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