Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ask Linda #1514-Opponent “knows” location of player’s shot; ball not found

Hi Linda,
I was in a semi-final knock-out match, level [all square] on the par-5 17th. My 3-wood second shot to the green was blind, well struck but a bit left. My opponent, standing on a mound, said he saw where it went and we looked there in long grass for five minutes, then I conceded the hole. When we walked on, we found my ball on the green in a position after two shots where I would probably have won the hole - he was off the green in three.

If I had been the opponent in that situation, I would have apologised and offered a half, but he took the hole and went on to win the match by one hole.

I have looked at “giving wrong information” and it does not seem to cover this. I assume he did not do this deliberately and, anyway, I think a punch on the nose is probably a breach of etiquette!  My view at the time was that it was my responsibility to know where my ball was, regardless of what he said, and that after five minutes search in the wrong place, it was lost. This is similar to it being my responsibility to know the rules even if told one incorrectly. But it does seem a bit unfair. Do you have any advice?

Lou from Barton on Sea, UK

Dear Lou,

I do. When you personally do not see where your ball finishes, and you have even just a small sliver of doubt as to whether you will find it, hit a provisional – every time. Don’t rely on the claim of another golfer that he knows where it is. It’s a matter of a few seconds to hit another ball.

Hitting a provisional might have saved you the match. If the shot with the provisional were shorter than the one with your original, you would have been able to hit a second shot with the provisional, search briefly for the original, walk forward to continue with your provisional, and discover your original on the way. Assuming you found the original within five minutes, you would be required to abandon the provisional and continue play of the hole with the original, all of which would be to your advantage. 

I’m not saying this would have happened, but it might have. And who knows? If you didn’t find the original, you still might have had a chance to halve the hole with your provisional.

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