Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Decision of the Day - 18-2b/4

It's rare that I get a ruling in a Zone competition that strikes me as very interesting in the overall scheme of things, but we had a ruling where the following decision was directly applicable:

18-2b/4 - Ball Moves After Player Grounds Club Short Distance Behind Ball But Before Grounding Club Immediately Behind Ball

Q.  A Player's routine prior to making a stroke is as follows: he first grounds the club a short distance behind, but not immediately behind the ball.  Then, he places the clubhead immediately behind the ball and makes the stroke.
  If the ball moves after he grounds the club a short distance behind, but before he grounds it immediately behind the ball, does he incur a penalty stroke under Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving After Address)?

A.  No.  A player has not addressed the ball until he has palced the clubhead immediately in front of or behind the ball - see Definition of "Addressing the Ball."
  However, it is a question o fact to be resolved by reference to all available evidence whether the player in fact caused the ball at rest to move.  If the player did so, he incurs a one stroke penalty under Rule 18-2a and must replace his ball.  otherwise, the ball must be played from its new location without penalty unless another Rule applies.  (Revised)

In the case we had yesterday, we had reports the ball had moved after the first gounding (not addressed) and that the player had replaced the ball to the original location.  We had to determine whether or not he caused the ball to move.  If he did, it was a one stroke penalty.  If he didn't, he would be penalized two strokes under Rule 18-2a because he lifted his ball in play and did not replace it as he would have been required to play the ball from the new location.  As it turned out, the player had simply re-marked the ball at the new location and replaced it again at the new location.  In speaking with the player, we determined he had not caused the initial movement and therefore had proceeded in accordance with the Rules without penalty.

This Decision falls in line with the USGA/R&A Clarification on "Addressing the Ball" which states that the player has grounded his club immediately behind the ball when it has been grounded in a place customary for a player prior to making the stroke.  The initial grounding is not the player's customary position for addressing the ball, but the later grounding is.

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