RULE: Ahh - my ball has moved by itself!

You are holding the flagstick for a fellow competitor who is about to putt when your ball lying on a sloping section of the green about 4 metres away starts to roll and comes to rest 60cm away from its original position. What do you do?

Answer: There are two answers!

 

  1. If you have not marked and replaced your ball, you play the ball as it lies.  You do not replace it nor incur any penalty. This can be tough, if your ball is on a sloping part of the green and decides to move itself (probably more likely by wind or gravity). It has happened here eg on the front of say #13, or #15 green, and even rolled off the green and come to rest about 10 metres away! Lesson - get up and mark the ball asap!!
  1. But if you have marked and then replaced your ball BEFORE it moved, it must again be replaced on that original spot.

 

The above situation applies ONLY when your ball is ON THE GREEN.

Now consider the ruling when your ball is in the General Area. Rule 9, “Ball at Rest Moved”, covers cases where the ball is moved.  For a full description, see the Player's Edition of the Rules of Golf but the following are the main points.

If the ball is moved by an outside influence, then the ball is replaced without penalty.  Note that wind and water are not outside agencies.  Ducks are!  Well, what is an outside influence? See definition p. 144 of the Rules of Golf.

If the ball is moved by the player, his/her caddie or equipment, then the ball must be replaced and the player incurs a 1 stroke penalty. 

The exception to having to replace the ball is if the ball moves after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.  There is still a 1 stroke penalty.

If in stroke play the ball  is moved by a fellow competitor, his/her caddie or equipment, the ball is replaced and there is no penalty.

If the ball in play and at rest is moved by another ball in motion after a stroke, then the moved ball is replaced without penalty.

But, what if ...... ?  See Rule 9.4b, p. 54 of the Player's edition of Rules of Golf for the circumstances when there is no penalty if a player accidentally causes the ball to move.

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