Wrong Ball or Wrong Place?

Of all the Rule situations that occur on the course one of the most difficult to unravel is if the player has played from a wrong place or has played a wrong ball and must correct the error by playing the correct ball.  While the play of a wrong ball must always be corrected, playing from a wrong place is only required to be corrected if the breach is considered serious.  While we will not cover what is considered a serious breach of playing from a wrong place in this article, we encourage you to take a few moments to read Rule 20-7 and the Decisions related to that Rule for further clarity.

A few principles are helpful when determining if a stroke has been made at a wrong ball or from a wrong place.

  • Wrong Ball:  Is never the player’s ball in play.
  • Wrong Ball:  May be the player’s original ball if it is no longer in play.
  • Wrong Ball: Every ball, other than the player’s ball in play, is a wrong ball with two exceptions
  1.      Provisional ball.  Provided the original ball has not been found in bounds.
  2.      Second ball played under Rule 3-3 or Rule 20-7 in stroke play only.
  • Wrong Place: Must be with the player’s ball in play.
  • Wrong Place:  The ball might not be the original ball of the player but it must be the player’s ball in play, i.e. the player must have intentionally put the ball into play.

Your task this month is to determine if the player in each of the following situations has played a wrong ball or from a wrong place.  Good Luck.

Questions:

  1. The player marks the position of his ball on the putting green, lifts the ball and sets it aside.  By mistake he putts from where he set his ball aside without replacing it.
  2. The player is asked by a fellow-competitor to move his ball marker off the fellow-competitor’s line of putt.  The player moves his ball marker one putter head to the right.  He inadvertently replaces his ball in front of the ball marker without returning the mark to its original position and putts.
  3. The player’s tee shot comes to rest out of bounds.  He makes a stroke at it from out of bounds.
  4. The player’s ball comes to rest out of bounds.  He drops and plays a ball within one club-length of where the ball last crossed the out of bounds.
  5. After hitting her ball towards high grass, the player properly announces and plays a provisional ball.  She finds her original ball inbounds but in a poor lie and decides to continue play with the provisional ball.  She completes the hole with the provisional ball.
  6. A player’s ball comes to rest on a cart path.  He drops a different ball almost two club-lengths from the nearest point of relief and plays. 
  7. After searching for more than five minutes for his ball, the player finds his ball and continues play with it.
  8. After a brief search, a player finds an abandoned ball which he thinks is his ball in a very poor lie.  He declares the ball unplayable and lifts and drops the ball within two club-lengths.  After he hits the ball onto the green he finds his original ball nearby.
  9. In match play, a player is uncertain of how to proceed for interference from casual water.  He decides to play two balls and plays the original from the casual water and the other from within one club-length of the nearest point of relief. 
  10. The player’s ball comes to rest in an area of the course where play is prohibited.  Unaware of this fact she plays the ball.

Answers:

  1.  Wrong Ball.  When the player lifted his ball it was out of play.  And when he made a stroke at a ball that was out of play he played a wrong ball even though it was his original ball.  To correct this error he must retrieve his ball and properly put it back into play.  However, he would still incur the two stroke penalty in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.  See Definitions for Equipment and Wrong Ball and Decision 15/4.
  2. Wrong Place.  The difference from question #1 is that this player put the ball back into play but in a wrong place.  The player incurs a loss of hole penalty in match play and a two stroke penalty in stroke play and must complete the hole with the ball played from a wrong place. See Decision 20-7c/1.
  3. Wrong Ball.  This player has made a stroke at his original ball that is not in play.  According to the definition of wrong ball, when a player’s ball is no longer in play it is a wrong ball.  This player incurs the general penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play and must correct his error by playing again from the tee.
  4. Wrong Place.  Since this player’s ball has come to rest out of bounds, he was required to put a ball into play as near as possible to where he last played.  This player has put another ball into play but not where Rule 27 requires.  Thus, he has played from a wrong place.  The difference from this answer and answer #3 is the fact that a ball was put into play.  
  5. Wrong Ball.  Rule 27-2 requires the provisional ball to be abandoned if the original ball is found in bounds.  The original ball remains her ball in play and by playing another stroke at the provisional ball she has played a wrong ball.
  6. Wrong Place.  In this situation it appears that the player has both played a wrong ball and from a wrong place.  Rule 24 (Obstructions) requires the player to drop the original ball if it is easily retrievable and to drop within one club-length.  However, by dropping a different ball this player has substituted a ball when he was not allowed to but the substituted ball becomes his ball in play and not a wrong ball.  Therefore, when he played a stroke at the dropped ball he played from a wrong place.  He has breached Rule 24 for substituting a ball when not allowed and for playing from a wrong place.  The penalty is loss of hole in match play or a two stroke penalty in stroke play, even though two rules have been breached.
  7. Wrong Ball.  When a player’s ball is not found and identified within 5 minutes his ball is lost and he must proceed under the stroke and distance procedure of Rule 27-1.  When the player made a stroke at his ball, which was out of play, he made a stroke at a wrong ball.
  8. Wrong Place.  When the player dropped the abandoned ball he was substituting a ball for his original and the dropped ball became the ball in play.  As the location of the original ball was not known at the time of the substitution he was required to proceed under the stroke and distance option of Rule 27 for a lost ball.  When he made a stroke at the dropped ball, which was not dropped at the location of his previous stroke, he played from a wrong place.
  9. Wrong Ball.  The playing of two balls under Rule 3-3 when a player is in doubt as to how to proceed is only allowed in stroke play.  In match play, when the player played a stroke at the second ball he made a stroke at a wrong ball and incurs a loss of hole penalty.
  10. Wrong Place.  Although her ball has come to rest in a location that she is not allowed to play from it is still her ball in play.  Thus, by failing to take proper relief from the area she has played from a wrong place.

Printable Question sheet

Printable Answer sheet

By Senior OGA Rules Officials Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly

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