Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ball Must NOT Be Played As It Lies


                Sergio’s amazing shot from the tree got me thinking about playing the ball as it lies.  It is a general principle of the Rules of Golf, in fact it is THE guiding principle behind the Rules of Golf.  But there are actually many instances under the Rules where a player would be penalized for playing the ball as it lies at the spot it comes to rest.  There are three categories these situations can fall under: 1) the ball has come to rest in an area from which play is prohibited, 2) the ball has come to rest in or on an object from which the Rules require relief, or 3) the Rules require the stroke to be canceled and replayed from the previous spot. 

Areas From Which Play is Prohibited

Rule 25-3: Wrong Putting Green
                When your ball comes to rest on a putting green that is not the putting green of the hole being played, it is a wrong putting green.  This includes any practice putting or chipping green that may be on the course.  Only when a ball is on the wrong putting green does a player have interference.  But when a player does have interference, he does not have an option.  The player must take relief by finding the nearest point of relief that is not in a hazard or on a putting green.
                In fact, Rule 25-3b explicitly states, “If a player’s ball lies on a wrong putting green, he must not play the ball as it lies.”  If the player makes a stroke at a ball lying on a wrong putting green, he has breached Rule 25-3 and would incur a penalty of 2 strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.  And there we have our first exception to Rule 13-1.

Rule 27-1: Ball Lying Out of Bounds
                How many times have you wanted to just take a swing at that ball lying a mere inches beyond the boundary of those pesky little white stakes?  The definition of ball in play tells us that a ball lying out of bounds is not our ball in play and that under Rule 27-1 if our ball is out of bounds we must proceed under stroke and distance.  The definition of wrong ball tells us that any ball other than a player’s ball in play, provisional ball or second ball played under Rule 3-3 or 20-c is a wrong ball.  So Decision 15/6 sums that information up nicely, if a player makes a stroke at a ball lying out of bounds he has made a stroke at a wrong ball and would incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, loss of hole in match play, and in stroke play would be required to correct the mistake by correctly proceeding under stroke and distance under Rule 27-1. So if your ball is out of bounds, you must not play it as it lies.

App. I-B-2: Environmentally-Sensitive Areas
                The definitions of Water Hazard and Lateral Water Hazard tell us in a Note that the Committee is permitted to make a local Rule prohibiting play from an environmentally-sensitive area defined as a water hazard or lateral water hazard.  At Appendix I-B-2b we can read the entirety of possibilities for environmentally-sensitive areas. 
                ESA’s can be water hazards, lateral water hazards, ground under repair or out of bounds.  In all of these cases, if the player’s ball comes to rest in these areas the player must not play the ball as it lies.  What is more interesting about the ESA local Rule, is that the player is also prohibited from playing the ball as it lies if the ball lies outside the ESA and something within the ESA interferes with the player’s stance or area of intended swing.  Potentially, a ball could be lying through the green in the fairway, and a bush from within an ESA marked as ground under repair could be interfering with your swing.  The player is required to take relief from the bush even though the ball lies through the green.  The player must not play the ball as it lies and would incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play for doing so.  Furthermore, in stroke play the breach could be considered a serious one and the player may be subject to disqualification.
                One thing to remember with ESA’s, the Committee may not declare an area to be an ESA, it must be declared as such by an authorized agency (general a Government Agency).

App. I-B-2: Ground Under Repair-Mandatory Relief
                If you have seen that statement on a local Rules sheet, then you have heard of another instance in which the player must not play his ball as it lies.  At Appendix I-B-2a we have a specimen local Rule the Committee may use to prohibit play from a specific area of ground under repair.  Typically we see this with flower beds or newly-sodded areas.  In situations where it would be beneficial for the course to not have players playing out of this area, the Committee should declare the area ground under repair from which play is prohibited.  If the player plays his ball as it lies, he would again incur the general penalty.

App. I-B-3: Protection of Young Trees
                In yet another approved local Rule involving the protection of an area, Appendix I-B-3 gives us a local Rule for the Protection of Young Trees.  The Committee may identify specific young trees that need to be protected and if the player has interference from the tree with either, his stance or area of intended swing, the ball must not be played as it lies.  If you have interference from the tree you must not play the ball as it lies or you will incur the general penalty.  The Exception to the local Rule, also provides an exception to this instance:  If interference by anything other than the tree makes the stroke clearly impracticable the player may not take relief under the local Rule.  This means that if the Committee determines that something else is making the stroke impracticable, the player must either declare the ball unplayable or take a swipe at it.  You wouldn’t incur the general penalty for trying in that circumstance.

Ball Comes to Rest In or On an Object From Which the Rules Require Relief

Rule 19-1a: Ball In Motion Stopped or Deflected by Outside Agency
                Under Rule 19-1a, if your ball in motion after a stroke other than on the putting green comes to rest in or on an animate or moving outside agency the ball must not be played as it lies.  The player is required to drop the ball as near as possible to the spot directly underneath the place where the ball came to rest in or on the outside agency, not nearer the hole.  A player who plays the ball as it lies in this case would incur the general penalty for a breach of 19-1a.

Rule 19-2 and 19-3: Ball In Motion Stopped or Deflected Comes to Rest on Clothes or Equipment
                If a ball in motion stopped or deflected comes to rest in or on the player’s clothes, the clothes of his caddie, the player’s equipment, the same of his partner, or the same of his opponent, the player will not be permitted to play the ball as it lies (although I’m sure many of you would love to take a swing at a ball lying in your opponent’s shirt pocket). 
Rule 19-3 will give the player the option to cancel a replay the ball, or if he likes the location and it has come to rest in or on the opponent’s or his caddie’s clothes or equipment he must drop through the green or in a hazard drop the ball, or on the putting green place the ball on the spot directly underneath where the ball came to rest on the clothes or equipment.  Failure to do so would result in the general penalty for a breach of 19-3.
Rule 19-2 does not give the player an option.  If the ball comes to rest in or on the player’s, his partner’s or his caddie’s clothes or equipment, the ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed directly underneath the spot where the ball came to rest on the clothes or equipment.  Again, a failure to do so would result in the general penalty for a breach of 19-2.

Rules Require the Stroke to be Canceled and Replayed from the Previous Spot

Rule 19-1b: Ball Deflected or Stopped by Animate Outside Agency on Putting Green
  
               Under Rule 19-1b, if a player’s ball in motion is stopped or deflected by an animate or moving outside agency (except worms, insects or the like) after a stroke made from the putting green, the player must cancel the stroke, replace the ball and replay it.  If the player plays the ball as it lies he would incur the general penalty for a breach of 19-1b.
                Under the Note to 19-1, if the ball was deliberately stopped or deflected we have a few more scenarios in which the player is not going to play the ball from where it came to rest.

Rule 19-5b: Ball In Motion Strikes Another Ball In Motion After a Stroke from the Putting Green

                If a player’s ball in motion is stopped or deflected by another ball in motion after a stroke from the putting green, the stroke is canceled and the ball must be replaced so the stroke can be replayed.  A player who fails to do so by playing the ball as it lies would incur the general penalty for a breach of Rule 19-5b.

Rule 17-2: Ball Strikes the Flagstick or Unauthorized Attendee After Stroke from Putting Green
                If a fellow-competitor or opponent (or their caddies) has attended the flagstick without the player’s authority there is already going to be a problem.  The unauthorized attendee will incur the general penalty.  However, if the player was making a stroke from the putting green and the ball subsequently strikes the flagstick, the unauthorized attendee or anything carried by him, the stroke is canceled and the ball must be replaced and replayed.  If the player does not do so he would incur the general penalty for a breach of 17-2.

Rule 5-3: Ball Breaks Into Pieces
                If after a stroke a ball is broken into pieces as a result of a stroke, the stroke is canceled and the player must not try to play a piece of his broken ball.  The player must play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.

Decision 33-8/13:  Ball Deflected by Power Line
                Decision 33-8/13 allows the Committee to make a local Rule requiring the player to cancel and replay a stroke that strikes a power line.  The Committee can even include the supporting poles and towers that would require canceling the stroke if struck.  If the player were to play the ball as it lies after striking an overhead power line when this local Rule is in effect, he would incur the general penalty for a breach of the local Rule.

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