Friday, July 28, 2017

Ask Linda #1583-Ball moved by dog

Hi Linda,
I am a registered blind golfer. I do have very limited central vision (about 7 degrees). This 7 degrees vision is very good, which allows me to play golf (basically severe tunnel vision). I play golf every Saturday with a group of about 20 good friends who help me out when I haven't a clue where my ball has gone. I more or less play to my 20 handicap.

Now my question: I am allowed to be accompanied on the course by my guide dog Webster. Last Saturday was very hot out on the course and after a few holes I decided to phone (bad etiquette) my wife to pick up Webster on the 10th tee. She got there in quick time and walked back to the 8th fairway, which we were playing. I spotted her when I was about 20 yards away and so did Webster. At this point (bad etiquette), I let him off his lead so he could run across to her (big mistake). The normally well-behaved Webster bounded across to her, very excited, and as it happened the ball of one of our four-ball was close by (we play a roll up Stableford). Spotting this, Webster ran to the ball, picked it up, and brought it back to me, looking very pleased with himself, much to everyone's amusement…
What should have been the correct (Rules of Golf) procedure for this event??
And No, this is not a wind up, it really did happen.
Lou from Somerset, UK

Dear Lou,

Before I answer your question, I would like to point out that it is not bad etiquette to call your wife during your round to pick up your dog and rescue him from the excessive heat. This is a praiseworthy, compassionate act.

Under the Rules of Golf, a dog is classified as an outside agency. When a player’s ball is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and he must replace the ball [Rule 18-1]. If the ball is not recoverable (think Webster jumping into the nearest water hazard to cool off and dropping the ball), or has been damaged (perhaps Webster chomped down on the ball and left tooth marks), the player may use another ball.

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