Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ask Linda #1731-Player picks up another’s ball and replaces wrong ball

Hi Linda,
Playing in a four-ball Stableford, Player A hits a tee shot into the light rough next to the fairway where it is visible. Player B’s drive is in the heavy rough adjacent and takes some finding. In the interim, a player from the opposition (Player C), presumably thinking A has played, picks up A’s ball and pockets it. Player A returns to play his second shot, having found B’s ball, and surprisingly, A’s ball is now absent from the light rough where it was moments before! Player C acknowledges having picked up Player A’s ball and replaces it. Player A plays to the green and marks, cleans the ball. It is not A’s ball. The balls have been switched, and A has now played the wrong ball through no fault of his own.

What is the penalty situation?

Player C incurs a one-stroke penalty for moving the fellow competitor’s ball?

Player A incurs a two-stroke penalty for playing the wrong ball?

Lou from Perth, Australia

Dear Lou,

There is no penalty to either player.

Player C incurs no penalty for lifting Player A’s ball. There is no penalty in stroke play for moving a fellow competitor’s ball [Rule 18-4].

Player A does not incur a penalty for playing a wrong ball. He did not authorize Player C to lift his ball, so he is not penalized for any breach of the Rules related to this unauthorized lifting [Decision 20-1/5].

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