Thursday, October 19, 2017
Ask Linda #1627-Replay shot after ball discovered to lie on sprinkler head
In a tournament recently, my ball landed just off the green, nestled right down in the grass - almost looked 'embedded' within the grass. I hit it out of that spot (it didn't get very far), then saw that it had in fact been resting on a sprinkler head that neither I nor my fellow competitors could identify prior to my taking the shot.
My fellow competitors agreed that I should replay the shot by taking a drop since that would be the correct procedure if we had known my ball had landed on a sprinkler head.
What is the correct ruling in this circumstance?
Lulu from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
A player who discovers that her ball was lying on a sprinkler head (immovable obstruction) after she hits the ball has no option to replay the shot. The time to make that discovery is prior to hitting. Once you hit the ball, it is in play.
When you lifted your ball in play and dropped it where you hit your previous shot, you were playing under stroke and distance [Rule 27-1]. You must count both shots and add a one-stroke penalty to your score.
If you suspected something unusual about a ball lying in deep grass near the green, you could have carefully probed with a tee or other slim tool to find out whether there was a sprinkler head under your ball. Alternately, you would be permitted to mark and lift the ball to assess the situation. In this case, you would have to announce your intention in advance to your opponent or fellow competitor and give her an opportunity to observe the lifting and any subsequent replacement of the ball (if no relief is available or any available relief is not taken). The ball may not be cleaned when lifted [Decision 20-1/0.7].
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