Friday, April 7, 2017

Ask Linda #1505-Identify ball in water hazard

Hi Linda,
In the clubhouse after the day’s golf, a golfer from a group I was not playing with asked me a question about identifying her ball in a water hazard. The ball was sitting where the person could get a swing at it – sitting in a dry part of the hazard. But she was not sure it was her ball and wanted to mark it to then lift it to identify it.

I looked up Rule 12 – namely 12-2 – and it doesn’t specify where – so I presume this rule relates to anywhere on the course. The answer to the golfer’s question would be yes – she could mark it to identify it in a hazard.

Is that correct?

Lulu from New Zealand

Dear Lulu,

Yes, that is correct. Excellent research, Lulu. The player is permitted to lift her ball for identification anywhere on the golf course, including when it lies in a water hazard. She must, however, follow a specific procedure whenever and wherever the ball must be lifted for identification:

• The player must announce her intention to lift the ball for identification to her opponent (match play) or her marker or fellow competitor (stroke play).
• The player must give her opponent, marker, or fellow competitor the opportunity to observe the marking, lifting, and replacing.
• If the markings on the ball are obscured, she may clean it a very little bit – only as much as necessary to be able to identify it.

If the player does not follow all or any part of the above procedure (or she lifts the ball when there is no reason to do so), the penalty is one stroke. For example, if she doesn’t invite an observer; or she invites an observer but fails to mark the position of the ball; or she does not invite an observer, doesn’t mark, and cleans the ball too much; the penalty is still just one stroke [Rule 12-2].

Note that while the player must provide the opportunity to observe the procedure, the potential observer (opponent, marker, or fellow competitor) may decline that invitation and tell the player to proceed on her own.


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