Rule of the Month: Who Done It? | Oregon Golf Association

Rule of the Month: Who Done It?

By OGA Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
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Ball at Rest Moved Other Than by the Player

The Rules recognize four possible causes for a ball at rest that moves before the player makes a stroke at the ball. Last month we focused on just one of the causes, that being the player himself or herself. The other possible causes include an opponent in match play, an outside influence, including another player in stroke play, and natural forces which include wind, water and gravity.

Rule 9.2 outlines the four possible causes mentioned above and stipulates that if it is not known or virtually certain that the ball moved, it is treated as not having moved. The same measurement of known or virtually certain is used to determine what caused the ball to move.

The definition of “known or virtually certain” contains wording to help a player in deciding these two facts. After considering all information the player can get, including information the player knows or can get with reasonable effort, there must be conclusive evidence (known) or it is 95% likely (virtually certain) that the ball moved and what caused it to move. If it is not known or there is less than 95% certainty, the ball is treated as having been moved by natural forces.

Test your knowledge with the following questions regarding when a ball is moved by natural forces, an opponent in match play or an outside influence.

Questions:

  1. While helping to find another player’s ball, the player accidentally moves the other player’s ball. There is no penalty and the ball must be replaced by either player.
  2. A ball is lifted from the putting green and replaced. As the player is lining up the putt, the ball rolls and comes to rest farther from the hole than its original position. The player must play the ball from its new location.
  3. If a ball moves due to wind or gravity, it must be played from its new location unless the ball was on the putting green and had already been lifted and replaced.
  4. An opponent in match play accidentally moves the player’s ball lying in the fairway. The opponent gets one penalty stroke and the ball must be replaced.
  5. A player in a stroke play competition accidentally moves another player’s ball lying in the fairway. The player gets one penalty stroke and the ball must be replaced.
  6. There is no penalty for accidentally moving another player’s ball or ball-marker on the putting green.
  7. If a player in match play mistakenly lifts an opponent’s ball on the putting green thinking it is the player’s ball, the player gets one penalty stroke.
  8. If the original spot where a moved ball must be replaced is unknown, the player must drop the ball as near as possible to the original spot, but not nearer the hole.
  9. When a moved ball must be replaced on a spot, the original ball must be used.
  10. A ball at rest that is moved by an animal has been moved by natural forces and must be played from its new location.


Answers:

  1. True. Rules 9 and 14.2b. In both match play and stroke play, players may help with searching for another player’s ball without the fear of a penalty for causing the ball to move. The ball must be replaced on the original spot, which if unknown must be estimated and replaced on the estimated spot by either the player who caused the ball to move or the player whose ball it is.
  2. False. Rule 9.3 and 13.1d. Once a player has lifted and replaced a ball on the putting green and the ball moves, it must be replaced on the original spot. This is true no matter what caused the ball to move.
  3. True. Rule 9.3. If it is less than 95% likely that one of the other causes moved the ball, it is treated as being moved by natural forces and must be played from its new location. This is true even after taking relief and dropping a ball. If a dropped ball comes to rest in the proper relief area and subsequently moves, it must be played from its new location even if it comes to rest outside the relief area.
  4. True. Rule 9.5. None of the exceptions in this Rule apply and the opponent gets one penalty stroke for causing the player’s ball to move. See question #5 for further clarity regarding stroke play.
  5. False. Rule 9.6. A player in a stroke play competition is an outside influence by definition and there is no penalty for causing another player’s ball to move. The ball must be replaced either by the player whose ball it is or by the player who moved it.
  6. True. Rule 13.1d(1). Accidental movement of a ball or ball-marker on the putting green is treated the same and there is no penalty for causing either to move, the ball or ball-marker must be replaced on the original spot. This is true even when the player hasn’t marked and lifted the ball.
  7. False. Rule 9.5b Exception 2. There is no penalty when a player accidentally moves a ball on the putting green. While this situation would not be considered accidental, the exception in this Rule exonerates the player of a penalty for an honest mistake.
  8. False. Rule 14.2c. When replacing a ball, and the spot is unknown, the spot must be estimated and the ball replaced on the estimated spot but not nearer the hole.
  9. True. Rule 14.2. If the original ball can be retrieved with reasonable effort in a few seconds, it must be used when replacing the ball on a specific spot. However, if the ball is cracked or cut or has been played by another player as a wrong ball, another ball may be used to replace. Additionally, when resuming play after it has been stopped, a player may substitute another ball when replacing a moved ball.
  10. False. Rule 9.6. By definition, animals are outside influences and not natural forces. When it is known or virtually certain that an animal caused the ball to move, the ball must be replaced. If the spot where the ball is to be replaced is unknown, it must be estimated and the ball replaced on the estimated spot.

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