Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Ask Linda #1610-Ball rolls during replacement

Dear Linda,
One player had a cross slope putt. When crouching and replacing the ball in front of her marker, the other players saw the ball roll about 18 inches down the slope (not on the putting line but at 45 degrees to the left.) The player said she accidentally dropped the ball when replacing it. The ball marker remained in place. The other players were behind and unable to see anything other than the rolling ball, although there were discussions as to whether this could be deemed as testing the green (slope). Is this a penalty? Thank you in advance.
Kind regards,
Lulu from Surrey, England

Dear Lulu,

If the ball accidentally moves while the player is in the act of replacing it, there is no penalty. The player must replace the ball [Rule 20-3a].

Judging from your narrative, the player was in the process of replacing the ball. While I obviously wasn’t present to observe her procedure, I see no reason to doubt her explanation that she dropped the ball. Nor does it seem that she intentionally rolled the ball down the slope to test the green.

Taking this a step further, if she had replaced the ball and accidentally moved it while removing her marker, the procedure would remain the same – she would not incur a penalty and would simply replace the ball and carry on.

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