Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ask Linda #1590-Knock ball out of bush during search

Hi Linda,
Thank you for all the clarification on the Rules of Golf. I have another query you may be able to help with. Whilst playing a short pitch hole on our home course, my partner hit his tee shot to the left of the green into some gorse. After a couple of minutes searching, I hit the bush with my club and his ball fell out. He claimed that this was a "rub of the green" and proceeded to play the ball from where it had landed without penalty. I thought he should have replaced the ball and either played it as it lay or taken a penalty drop. What do you think?
Lou from Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland

Dear Lou,

I think you are well-versed in the Rules of Golf, Lou.

This is not a rub of the green, which is defined as an accidental deflection or stoppage of a ball in motion by an outside agency. This ball was not moved until after it had come to rest, which puts it in a completely different category. This ball was in play and at rest, and was moved during search. There are different outcomes, depending on the format and the relationship between the player who caused the ball to move and the player whose ball was moved.

If the players are partners, and the partner moves the player’s ball, the player (not the partner) incurs a one-stroke penalty and must replace the ball [Rule 18-2]. This is true for both match play and stroke play.

If the two players are not partners, there is no penalty. In match play, there is never a penalty to anyone if a player’s opponent inadvertently moves the player’s ball while searching for it [Rule 18-3a]. In stroke play, there is never a penalty to anyone if a fellow competitor moves a player’s ball [Rule 18-4]. In both formats, the moved ball must be replaced.

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