We’re approaching the end of the “Spring League”. It’s a seven-hole competition so, true to form, once I’ve finished the first seven holes, my golf improves dramatically! It’s nice to play the rest of the round without a card, although my four ball usually has a four ball better ball or skins game on the go, so there’s always a bit of friendly rivalry. It’s great to be able to try risk and reward shots without a card in your hand, so I was delighted when my wedge onto the 13th landed quite near the hole (- well, nearer than my usual attempts!!!) As I repaired a few pitch marks on my way across the green, I noticed my ball move about a centimetre or two. What’s the ruling? I hadn’t caused it to move – I wasn’t close enough. Was I supposed to play it as it lies or move it back to its original position? These questions ran through my mind, however after a quick discussion with my friends I played the ball from its new position.
In the back of my mind, I thought there was a different ruling if the ball had already been marked and lifted, and whilst this wasn’t the case, I was still curious to find out, so once I got home I checked it on the The R&A’s Rules of Golf App.
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Firstly, I made sure I’d acted correctly on the 13th green. Rule 9.3 states: “If natural forces (such as wind or water) cause a player’s ball at rest to move: there is no penalty, and the ball must be played from its new spot.”
Even if I had caused the ball to move unintentionally, the procedure would have been the same, since later the rules say “There is no penalty when the player accidentally causes the ball to move on the putting green, no matter how that happens.”
“Exception 1” however was the bit I was wondering about – what happens if you’d already marked and lifted your ball. It says – “If the player’s ball on the putting green moves after the player had already lifted and replaced the ball on the spot from which it moved, the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated). This is true no matter what caused it to move (including natural forces).”
Meanwhile, Australian Brendan Jones had quite a weekend. On Friday he had a five-hour wait to see if he’d made the cut at this weekend’s New Zealand Open, and on Sunday he lifted the trophy! It was fellow Aussie, Shae Wools-Cobb who led going into the final round, but things didn’t go his way. I’ll bet you’ve never seen this before – the folks at Golf Monthly hadn’t!
We've never seen this!😲pic.twitter.com/4LdboqlNZN
— Golf Monthly (@GolfMonthly) March 5, 2023
Initially it looked as if he’d fluffed his shot and flopped it a metre or so to the right, however the camera showed another ball heading towards the green! Which one was his? What was the ruling? Some Twitter followers thought he’d be penalised for hitting two balls. Luckily the ball that flopped to the right wasn’t his – his was the ball just short of the green. That meant the other ball must have been buried beneath his original ball, or was right next to it and it went undetected thanks to an impossibly tough lie. There was no penalty in this case because Wools-Cobb intended to hit his actual golf ball, therefore he didn’t do anything wrong.
You never know when you might need to remember this rule!!