Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Ask Linda 1986-Hit another player’s ball

Dear readers,
My answers to this reader’s questions are in the body of her letter.

Hi Linda,
Thank you for your website which is very helpful in explaining clearly golf situations and how to apply the rules to them.

Here is a situation which occurred at our club stroke-play competition yesterday and would be obliged if you could clarify all the queries it raised!

Players A, B & C play up the 1st hole. Player B cannot find her ball after hitting her second shot. She thereafter plays another ball under lost ball procedure with penalties.

On the 3rd hole the tee shots of Players A & C land in same area. Player C arrives at first ball, which is not hers. She shouts out make of ball and marking. Player A says that it is not hers. It is then established that Player A must have hit Player B’s ball on the first.

Player A apologises to Player B and hands the ball to her and does not continue play of that hole, saying she will No Return.

Discussion takes place: Player A would be disqualified for 2 reasons – playing wrong ball and failing to rectify error before play of next hole, and for failing to hole out on the 3rd hole.

(1) Player A questions how can she rectify error when she did not know she had hit the wrong ball? Should she be DQ for this rule?

My answer:
Yes, the player is disqualified for hitting a wrong ball and not rectifying the mistake prior to teeing off on the next hole. There is no excuse (and no exemption from penalty) for not knowing that the ball she hit was not hers. She should have realized she hit a wrong ball when she picked it up out of the hole. At that point, she could have corrected the error, as she had not yet teed off on the next hole. She would get the two-stroke penalty for playing a wrong ball. If she could not find her original ball, she would have to return to the tee and play another ball under stroke and distance (for a total of three penalty strokes on the hole). There is no excuse for not identifying your ball before you hit it.

(2) If during play of a hole and standing on the tee player realises that they must have hit a wrong ball as the ball in hand is not theirs, however cannot be sure where the error occurred in the round, what happens?

My answer:
Every effort must be made to try to establish when the player hit the wrong ball. If there is not clear evidence that the wrong ball was hit in the middle of playing a hole, there is no penalty. It may be possible that the player picked another player’s ball out of the hole and returned a different ball to the player. All of this should be easy to establish, as a player would remember whether she handed a ball to another player, and the other player should remember receiving it. It seems relatively clear in your narrative that Player A must have hit Player B’s ball on the first hole, although I have trouble understanding how she managed to play the entire second hole without noticing that she was using another player’s ball, which she had an opportunity to observe when she teed up, marked on the green, picked up out of the hole, and teed up on the next hole.

(3) What adjustments if any are made to the score of Player B in the situation above?

My answer:
None. Player B’s ball was officially lost as soon as she played another ball under stroke and distance. This is an unfortunate but unavoidable result of another player mistakenly playing her ball. Perhaps this incident will serve as a good lesson to the three players involved that they should always make certain the ball they are about to hit is theirs.

Lulu from Scotland

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