Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Ask Linda #1630-When you may lift your ball
In a social game yesterday one of our group marked and picked up his ball about a metre off the green and sitting precariously on the top of slope. I suggested to him that that was not permitted under the rules of golf (unless he was on a player’s line and was requested to mark it). His response was that a ball can be marked and lifted anywhere on the course.
I didn’t want to make a big deal of it because it was only a social game and he is a good friend, but if he is correct I have been playing the game for 60+ years under the false understanding that such action would incur a penalty in a competition.
Can you please advise?
Lou from Perth, Western Australia
Rule 18-2 states that a player incurs a one-stroke penalty if he lifts his ball in play, unless the lifting is permitted by the Rules. Let’s take a look at which Rules permit lifting the ball:
• Rule 16-1b permits the player to mark and lift his ball on the putting green.
• Rule 22-1 permits the player to mark and lift his ball if he believes that it may assist another player. He may not clean the ball under this Rule, unless it is on the putting green.
• Rule 22-2 permits the player to mark and lift his ball if it interferes with the play of another player, but only if the other player asks him to do so. He may not clean the ball under this Rule, unless it is on the putting green.
Obviously, the player will also lift his ball when taking relief from immovable obstructions, abnormal ground conditions, wrong putting greens, embedded balls, water hazards, and unplayable situations. And he may lift his ball for identification [Rule 12-2], and when the Local Rule for "preferred lies" is in effect. However, he does not have blanket permission to lift his ball in play whenever he pleases. If he arbitrarily lifts his ball, he incurs a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2. You may rest easy – your 60+ years of not lifting the ball except as permitted under the Rules is the proper way to play the game.
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