Rule of the Month: If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right)

By Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly

Wrong Ball

Can we see a show of hands of anyone who has played a wrong ball? Oh, Wow! Maybe a better question would be a show of hands of anyone who has not played a wrong ball? It is far too easy to play a wrong ball and it might even surprise you to discover what constitutes a wrong ball. Don’t let this discourage you as the best golfers in the world mistakenly play a wrong ball from time to time.

Rule of the Month

But all is not lost, unless you are playing a match, in which case you incurred the general penalty of loss of hole for playing a wrong ball. So to save a bit of time, move on to the next hole. However, in stroke play, the penalty is a bit more complicated and may take a bit of time to sort out.

Test your knowledge of playing a wrong ball with the following questions. Please note that all of the situations presented are in individual stroke play format.

Questions: True / False

  1. If a player makes a stroke at his original ball that lies out of bounds, he has not played a wrong ball.
  2. The error of playing a wrong ball must be corrected by playing the correct ball or by taking proper relief.
  3. After marking and lifting her original ball from the putting green, the player accidentally replaces a different ball on the original spot and makes a stroke to complete the hole. She has played a wrong ball and is required to correct this error before teeing off on the next hole.
  4. After an unsuccessful three minute search for the ball, if it is then found on the course, further strokes at it are strokes at a wrong ball.
  5. Count the strokes: A player’s tee shot comes to rest in deep rough. He finds a ball and hits it onto the green and takes two putts to complete the hole. When he lifts the ball from the hole, he discovers that it is not his original ball. He returns to the area of deep rough and is unable to find his ball. When he returns to the tee to play under stroke and distance, he will be making his 8th stroke.
  6. After properly playing a provisional ball which comes to rest in the fairway, the player finds her original ball on the course in a very difficult lie. She may abandon the original ball and continue with the provisional ball.
  7. Believing that his tee shot might be lost outside of a penalty area, the player properly plays a provisional ball which comes to rest in the fairway. When he arrives in the area to search for his original ball, he discovers the area is marked as a red penalty area. He is unable to find the original ball and is virtually certain that the ball is inside the penalty area. He may continue with the provisional ball, which lies three.
  8. A player finds a ball at rest in an area of shallow water inside a penalty area and hits the ball onto the putting green. When she arrives at the green, she discovers it was not her original ball. There is no penalty for playing a wrong ball in this situation.
  9. When another player plays your ball as a wrong ball, you must replace a ball on the original spot, which if unknown must be estimated.
  10. Failure to correct the error of playing a wrong ball must be corrected before the player makes a stroke to begin another hole. Or if the breach happens on the final hole of the round, before returning his or her scorecard.

 

Answers:

  1. False. Definition of Wrong Ball. Once a ball comes to rest out of bounds, it is no longer in play and further strokes at the ball are strokes at a wrong ball even though it might be the player’s original ball.
  2. True. Rule 6.3c. The play of a wrong ball must be corrected and can sometimes be difficult to sort out how and where to continue play if the original ball is not found. In the situation presented in question #1, the player is required to correct by playing under penalty of stroke and distance from where the stroke was made that resulted in the ball coming to rest out of bounds. The player gets two penalty strokes for playing a wrong ball and one more penalty stroke for the stroke and distance procedure for the ball coming to rest out of bounds.
  3. False. Rule 6.3b and 6.3c. In this case, the player has not played a wrong ball but rather an incorrectly substituted ball. She still receives the general penalty but she is not required or allowed to correct the error once the stroke was made at the substituted ball.
  4. True. Definition of Wrong Ball and Rule 6.3. Similar to question #1, this ball is no longer in play and is lost by definition. Even though it is the player’s original ball, it is not his or her ball in play and strokes at it are strokes at a wrong ball.
  5. False. Rule 6.3c(1) Penalty Statement. The strokes made at the wrong ball do not count in the player’s score. Therefore, when he returns to the tee, he will be making his 5th stroke (He lies 4. The original stroke from the tee, two penalty strokes for playing a wrong ball and one penalty stroke for stroke and distance for the lost ball).
  6. False. Rule 18.3c(3). Once the original ball is found on the course, the provisional ball must be abandoned. Further strokes at the provisional ball are strokes at a wrong ball and the player would get two penalty strokes and must correct the error by continuing with the original ball. If the player had lifted the original ball, an additional penalty under Rule 9 may apply.
  7. False. Rule 18.3c(3). Under Rule 18, a player may play a provisional ball if he believes that the ball might be out of bounds or lost outside of a penalty area. In the case presented, the fact that the area turned out to be a penalty area does not change the facts of why he played the provisional ball. However, when it becomes known or the player is virtually certain that the original ball is in a penalty area, the provisional ball must be abandoned. The player must either continue play with the original ball, if found, or take penalty area relief. Further strokes at the provisional ball are strokes at a wrong ball.
  8. False. Rule 6.3c(1) Exception. We hope this didn’t catch you off-guard. Under this Exception, in order for there to be no penalty for playing a wrong ball that was in water in a penalty area, the ball must be moving. Since the ball that the player played was at rest, she could have marked, lifted and identified it by following the procedure under Rule 7. Unfortunately, this player incurs the general penalty of two penalty strokes for playing a wrong ball and must correct the error by playing the right ball, or taking relief under the applicable Rule.
  9. True. Rule 6.3c(2). If you know or are virtually certain that your ball has been played by another player as a wrong ball, you must replace a ball on the original spot or the estimated spot. In this circumstance, the original or another ball may be used. If the lie of your ball has been altered due to the actions of the other player, follow the procedure in Rule 14.2d when replacing. This might require you to re-create the lie in sand or possibly place the ball in a different location than the original spot.
  10. True. Rule 6.3c. No wiggle room here. Our advice: put a mark on your ball and if you have any doubt regarding if a found ball is yours, follow the procedure in Rule 7 to identify the ball. Additionally, ask yourself “is this my ball AND is it in play”? And when a wrong ball is played, correct the error as soon as the breach is discovered.