Friday, March 31, 2017

Ask Linda #1503-Ball set aside on green, not replaced before hit

Hi Linda,
Heard an interesting question today:
A player played on to the green from the rough. To speed up play someone on the green marked his ball and tossed it a couple meters away.
The player did not know it was marked and the marker forgot and he finished hole from incorrect place. It was not remembered until next hole. 
What is the penalty and to whom??
Lou from Melbourne, Australia

Dear Lou,

Once the ball is lifted, it is no longer in play [Definition of “Ball in Play”]. When a player hits a ball that is not in play, he has played a wrong ball.

Ordinarily, a player is penalized for hitting a wrong ball (loss of hole in match play; two strokes in stroke play and he would have to replace his ball on the correct spot and complete the hole). However, in this situation the player was unaware his ball had been marked and moved, so the ruling is different.

Since the player did not know what had happened, he does not incur a penalty for hitting a wrong ball. If the mistake is discovered before he tees off on the next hole, he must return to the green, place the ball on the correct spot (his best estimation), and complete the hole. If the mistake is discovered after he tees off on the next hole, the result stands. Either way, there is no penalty to anyone [Decision 15-3b/3].

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ask Linda #1502-Relief from cart path provides relief from boundary fence

Hi Linda,
On Sunday, in a stroke play competition, after my second shot, my ball lay on grass close to an out of bounds wall just beyond the green. The wall made a shot in the direction of the green impossible. I could play the ball sideways to take the ball away from the wall. In setting up for this shot my feet were on an artificial path that runs near to the wall. I declared my intention to play sideways and then take free relief from the path. I dropped my ball within one club length of the nearest point of relief for that direction of shot, no nearer the hole. After the drop both the ball and my feet were clear of the path for a shot in the original intended direction. I now, by changing direction of the shot, had a clear chip to the green but in this direction was again stood on the path. I played the ball with my feet on the path as I had a good lie for my ball and chipped close to the pin.

At this point one fellow competitor said that I was not entitled to the original free relief from the path as my ball had been unplayable to the green, because of the wall, and it was only by playing in an unusual direction that my feet were on the path. A second fellow competitor said that I may have got free relief for the path originally but I had not taken full relief as I was stood on the path for a shot and should be penalised.

I said that I had played correctly to the rules on both occasions as I was entitled to play sideways for the first shot to get away from the wall and, because I had then taken relief correctly, the fact that I could change direction of shot meant I then had the choice of taking or not taking relief from the path for that shot.

Both actually said "jokingly" that was I was doing was tantamount to cheating.

You can imagine the discussion in the clubhouse afterwards! which never resolved the issue.

Your view would be much appreciated.

Best wishes,
Lou from England

Dear Lou,

Under the circumstances you describe, a sideways stroke is not an unnecessarily abnormal direction to play. Thus, you are entitled to relief when your stance to hit the ball sideways is on the cart path [Rule 24-2b, Exception].

Your drop gave you complete relief for your planned sideways shot, so the ball was in play. After a drop, your circumstances may change (as they did for you), and you are entitled to change your mind about which direction to hit the ball. You had the option to take relief from the cart path for a shot towards the green, had you wished to do so.

Your procedure was not tantamount to cheating – it was smart. You used your knowledge of the Rules to your advantage. Your experience proves the point that a thorough knowledge of the Rules can save strokes.

Please read the following Decisions, and share them with your fellow competitors and all the “experts” in the clubhouse: 24-2b/17 (the circumstance most similar to yours), 24-2b/6 (which permits incidental relief from a boundary fence when a player takes relief from an immovable obstruction), and 24-2b/9.5 (an eye-opener that shows a progression of legal drops that greatly improve the player’s situation).

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ask Linda #1501-Player pushes short putt into hole

Hi Linda,
I have been following your very informative answers to rules questions for a few years and really do enjoy and appreciate them.
I play in our men's club weekly, and have noticed more than once the following situation: A player has missed a putt that stops just a few inches from the hole, walks up nonchalantly and taps the putt into the hole. However, sometimes the putter will hit the ground short of the ball, and the putter is stopped. Now the player quickly continues the stroke into the hole. I believe that is two strokes. Am I correct?
Thank you for all you do for us golfers who want to know and play by the rules.
Lou from Sun City West, Arizona

Dear Lou,

It’s difficult to answer your question without actually observing the event. However, I will give you an answer based on what I suspect is happening. The player attempts to putt the ball; the putter hits the ground and stops just behind the ball; the player subsequently pushes the ball into the hole.

When the player attempts to hit the ball, and the putter stops short of the ball, it counts as a stroke. Think of this attempt to hit the ball as a whiff. When he moves the putter the second time, either pushing or scraping the ball into the hole, he has breached Rule 14-1a. This Rule prohibits pushing or scraping the ball. In match play, he loses the hole. In stroke play, count the original stroke (the whiff), the push/scrape stroke, plus a two-stroke penalty.

If the player’s second attempt to hit the ball is an actual stroke, and not a push, such that the club starts out behind the ball and contacts the ball momentarily, there is no penalty. In this case you would count the two strokes (the whiff and the second stroke).

The Rules are not very tolerant of careless play.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ask Linda #1500-Dropping Zone for island green

Hello Linda,
At a course I play regularly there is a par 4 that is about 270 yards long to the green from the tees I play. The green is a true island green with only a metal bridge for players to cross over for access. 

The club has designated a drop zone just outside the fringe on the island itself. If the back of the green is 12 o'clock and the front edge is 6 o'clock, the drop zone is at 4 o'clock. I would like to know how to utilize the drop zone.

I have always played that I need to have at least reached the island before dropping in the drop zone. Meaning physically make contact with the island before entering the water. If I come up short, left, right, or long and go straight into the water (kerplunk!) I just drop from the "shore" and try to cross the water again.

Should I be heading straight towards the drop zone anytime it enters the water? 

Should I head towards the drop zone as long as the ball at least crosses the front edge of the island? So only short balls would need to be dropped across the water?

A friend once said, there is a drop zone and to just try and reach the green because if you go in the water you get to drop on the green anyway. That just didn't seem right to me unless I had actually touched the island first. It's about 220 to reach the water, so if you just rolled it in to the water, seems odd that you would get to drop 50 yards closer to the hole on the island and out of "danger".

I have yet to ask the club if the drop zone is mandatory or not and I don't believe it is marked as a lateral hazard.

Lou from Phoenix, Arizona

Dear Lou,

If it is known or virtually certain that your ball is in the water hazard, and the Committee has provided a Dropping Zone (DZ), you are entitled to drop a ball in the DZ, adding a one-stroke penalty to your score for the hole.

The question you must ask yourself is: “Where is the ball?” If your answer is: “The ball is in the hazard,” you may avail yourself of any of the relief options for a ball in a water hazard.

There is no requirement that your ball touch land on the other side of the hazard in order to play from the DZ. Please read about Dropping Zones in Appendix I, Part A, #6, on page 152 in the 2016 rulebook.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ask Linda #1499-Leave ball in position to assist partner in match play

I have a supplementary question about marking and lifting balls on the green in match play. 

I am typing here an extract from one of your earlier answers.

…in match play, there may be some strategy involved in not asking a player to mark and lift their ball on the green. Suppose, for example, that you have a downhill putt, and your opponent’s ball is lying behind the hole where it could serve as a backstop for your ball if you putt it too hard. The Rules state that you may lift your ball if you think it might assist another player (Rule 22-1). Note that there is a world of difference between “may” and “must.” If your opponent is showing no inclination to mark and lift their ball, take advantage of the situation and go ahead and putt.

The question is may your partner in four-ball match play deliberately leave their ball in place to assist you?

Many thanks as ever,
Lou from West Wickham, England 

Dear Lou,

Yes, but it’s a foolish opponent who notices that your ball is in position to assist your partner and doesn’t tell you to mark and lift your ball. He has that right under Rule 22-1b, and he should exercise it.

If your opponent asks you to lift a ball that might assist your partner and you refuse to do so, both you and your partner are disqualified from the hole [Decision 30-3f/11].

The ruling is not the same in stroke play, where competitors who agree to not lift a ball that might assist any competitor are disqualified from the competition.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.