Thursday, February 23, 2017


Dear readers,

I will be away from my desk until March 8. I will not post any columns during this absence.

Please do not send me any questions until March 9. I will be unable to answer them while I’m away, and a stack of unanswered questions when I return would be unmanageable.

Thanks for your consideration,


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ask Linda #1486-Wave players through when searching for ball

Hi Linda,
Can you confirm that a player should call the match behind through when they start the search and not wait until the 5 minutes is up before they call?
Today our match had to wait the 5 minutes, and then the player came back to the tee to play another ball!
Lou from Spain

Dear Lou,

The operating word in your question, Lou, is “should.” Yes, you absolutely should wave a following group through when it appears that your search for a ball will not be quick.

This advice appears in the Etiquette section of your rulebook. Here is the exact wording:

Players searching for a ball should signal the players in the group behind them to play through as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball will not easily be found. They should not search for five minutes before doing so. Having allowed the group behind to play through, they should not continue play until that group has passed and is out of range.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ask Linda #1485-Moving cart rolls over ball

I was driving the cart and my dad is the passenger. We are looking for his ball in the fairway but the sun is in our eyes and there are leaves all over the fairway. He has a match with another player in our group and I accidentally run over my dad's ball. It becomes embedded and I said he could replace it, no penalty, but the other guy said his equipment was on the cart, therefore the cart was part of his equipment and it should be a one-shot penalty. I said he was just a fellow golfer (we were not partners) and I was looking for his ball. My dad took the penalty and I was sick about it. Who was right?
Lou from Gaffney, South Carolina

Dear Lou,

Let’s take a look at the Definition of “Equipment.” It states: “If a shared golf cart is being moved by one of the players sharing it (or his partner or either of their caddies), the cart and everything in it are deemed to be that player’s equipment.” Accordingly, since you were driving the cart when you ran over your dad’s ball, the cart was your equipment, not his. Your dad does not incur a penalty, since the equipment (cart) was not his and you were not his partner. Since the original lie was altered (the cart pushed the ball into the ground), and the original lie was on the fairway, he was required to place it on the fairway just outside the embedded depression, no closer to the hole [Rule 20-3b].

If you had been your dad’s partner, he would have incurred a one-stroke penalty, and he would have had to replace the ball [Rule 18-2].

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ask Linda #1484-Change balls between holes

Hi Linda,
After coming off the first green, I noticed that my ball was getting a little shabby. I brought out a new ball, and played without informing my fellow competitors. I believe I am not required to inform competitors, either in stroke play or match play, that I am changing my ball. Is this correct?

Thanks, love your blogs Linda, 
Lou from Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders

Dear Lou,

Yes, you are permitted to change balls between the play of two holes. There is no requirement that you inform your opponents or fellow competitors, but I would strongly recommend that you do so. It will save everyone from unnecessary confusion should you need assistance finding your ball.

Each player should also announce what ball he is playing, as well as how it is marked, at the start of the round. While it is unlikely that two players will have the same brand, number, and personal mark, it is important to know that another player is playing your same type of ball. This knowledge will make you more careful about checking to see that the Brand-X ball you are about to hit is your Brand-X ball.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ask Linda #1483 expanded

Dear readers,

Please revisit yesterday's post ( I edited it to include additional information (a helpful suggestion from a Lou in Georgia).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ask Linda #1483-Another player hits your ball

Dear Linda,
If another player hits my ball in the fairway, do I have to put my ball back in the original spot or leave where it lies? 
Lulu from Perkins, Oklahoma

Dear Lulu,

When another player hits your ball, you must place a ball on the spot from which she played it. If your lie was altered by her shot, you must place a ball in the nearest lie that is most similar to your original lie, within one club-length, and no closer to the hole [Rule 20-3b (i)]. If you can't determine the exact spot, you will have to drop a ball as near as possible to where you suspect it originally lay [Rule 20-3c]. You do not have to retrieve your original ball – any ball in your bag will do.

There is no penalty to you, of course. The story does not have such a happy ending for the player who hit your ball. Hitting another golfer’s ball is called hitting a “wrong ball.” In match play, the player loses the hole. In stroke play, the penalty is two strokes, and the player must correct her mistake before she tees off on the next hole. If she fails to make the correction, she is disqualified [Rule 15-3].

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ask Linda #1482-Ball “lost” when player abandons search

Hi Linda,
I am of the opinion that once you start to walk back to the tee your ball is now lost, even if found within the 5-minute time limit.
Am I correct?
Lou from South Australia

Dear Lou,

No. A ball is not “lost” under the Rules simply because the player has abandoned a search that lasted less than five minutes.

If the player’s ball is found within five minutes and before the player hits another ball from the teeing ground (even if he has already teed up a new ball), he may continue play with the original ball or play the teed ball under penalty of stroke and distance [Decision 27-1/1]. The original ball was not “lost” under the Rules [Definition of “Lost Ball”], and the teed-up ball was not in play [Definition of “Ball in Play”].

If it had been the player’s second shot, and he had returned to the spot where he hit that second shot, there are two possible outcomes when the original is found within five minutes:
(1) If the player drops a ball on the spot where he hit his previous shot, it is in play and the original is deemed “lost.” He must play the dropped ball, and he incurs a one-stroke penalty under stroke and distance [Rule 27-1, Decision 27-1/2].
(2) If the player’s ball is found within five minutes and before he drops another ball under stroke and distance, his original ball is not lost. He may play the original ball, or drop and play a ball under penalty of stroke and distance.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.