Friday, May 26, 2017
Ask Linda #1539-Penalty for dislodging ball from tree
My question is about Decision 28/1.
A ball in a tree. I cannot identify it. If I throw a plastic bottle (carefully) and that ball falls down I can identify it. It is my ball. If I proceed under 28b (flagline) or 28c (two club-lengths) I have moved my ball at rest, which is a breach of Rule 18. If, in this case, I would proceed under 28a (stroke and distance) after throwing the bottle, would I still have breached Rule 18? I would think not. But if so, why?
Lou from Holland.
If you spot a ball in a tree that you suspect may be yours, and you have no plans to play it as it lies in the tree, the safest procedure is to announce, before trying to dislodge it, that you will proceed under one of the relief options for an unplayable ball if it turns out to be yours. After such an announcement, you will not incur a penalty under Rule 18-2 for moving your ball in play. Any method of dislodging the ball (short of pulling out a chain saw) is acceptable – shake the tree, toss a water bottle, throw a club, climb the tree, etc. If it is clear from your actions that you will declare the ball unplayable if it turns out to be yours, there is still no penalty for moving it. However, you will avoid arguments about your intentions if you make them known before you attack the tree [Decision 18-2/27].
If you have not made an announcement, and your intentions are not clear, you will incur one penalty stroke for moving your ball in play, and an additional penalty stroke if you choose any of the relief options for an unplayable ball [Decision 18-2/28]. (An example of unclear intentions would be if you have no idea where your ball is, you shake a tree, and the ball falls out.)
Decision 28/1 (the one you referenced at the beginning of your question) deals with a different situation. It states that a player does not have to go forward to identify his ball if he wants to proceed under the first option of Rule 28 and hit another ball under stroke and distance. (The player always has the option to proceed under stroke and distance, regardless of the reason.) However, a player who wishes to proceed under Rule 28b (flagline) or Rule 28c (two-club-lengths) must first identify his ball, since it is not possible to use either of those relief options without knowing exactly where the ball lies.
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