Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ask Linda #1502-Player’s ball hit by opponent

Hi Linda,
Could you advise me on a situation which arose during a friendly 4-ball (better ball) Match Play?

Playing the 18th hole and we were one down. Opposing players hit the ball down the centre of the fairway. My partner did the same. As we needed to win, and being confident of my partner’s ball, I chose to go for the green. I hit my ball OB and reluctantly played 3 off the tee – not too concerned as my partner should have been well placed.

When we arrived at the balls, our opponents declared their balls as found. However after 5 minutes of searching my partner’s ball was declared lost. I reluctantly played on.

We all hit our approach shots to the green, being so close and me playing 3 off the tee we gave them the hole and lost on the day, only to find as one of the players identified his ball on the green that he had played the wrong ball. He had in fact played my partner’s ball and it was his ball that was lost.

If I understand the rules correctly then the correct enforcement of a penalty for the player concerned would be of little consequence as we had lost the opportunity with me playing 3 off the tee. By this time we had all the following groups queuing up behind us! Can you please confirm what the exact ruling would be in this situation, had it been a competitive match?

Lou from Spain

Dear Lou,

The player who hit your partner’s ball is disqualified from the hole; his partner will continue playing [Rule 15-3a; Decision 27/6].

Your partner’s ball is deemed “lost,” since it has not been found within five minutes [Definition of “Lost Ball”]. Your team loses the match when you concede to the player whose score you assumed would be better than yours.

Nothing good ever happens when players fail to properly identify a ball before hitting it. Should this same situation arise in the future (three balls hit in the same general direction, only two found), I would suggest that the player whose ball was not found ask the other two players to make absolutely certain that the ball they are about to hit is theirs. Also, keep in mind that there is nothing to stop him from checking the two balls lying in the fairway during his five-minute search.

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