Friday, June 14, 2013

When a Ball is Holed


            As I turned on the U.S. Open this morning there was instantly a Rules situation, and as usual Paul Azinger incorrectly stated the Rules of the game.  A ball had come rest against the flagstick and the player carefully moved the flagstick so that the ball fell into the hole.  (Under Rule 17-4 when a ball is resting against the flagstick the player may move or remove the flagstick to see whether the ball falls into the hole). The ball was then officially holed.  The announcers then stated that the ball must touch the bottom of the “cup.”  This is not what the Rule says, and I can point out two specific situations in the Decisions book that state the ball is holed even though it has not touched the bottom of the hole.
           
The definition of “holed” reads:

A ball is “holed” when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip of the hole.

Nowhere in the definition does it state that the ball must touch the bottom of the hole.

In Decision 16/2, the ball embeds in the side of the hole and all of the ball is below the level of the lip of the hole.  The Decision states that the ball should be considered holed.  It does not touch the bottom of the hole.

In Decision 17-4/1, a ball is resting against the flagstick.  In this Decision, the ball is not holed, however the reason it is not holed is because all of the ball is not below the level of the lip of the hole.  A ball that is resting against the flagstick but is resting with all of the ball below the level of the lip is in fact holed, whether or not it ever touches the bottom of the hole.  If there is any doubt, it would still be wise to move the flagstick in such a manner that the ball does fall to the bottom of the hole.

On the other hand, it is necessary to let the ball come to rest.  In Decision 1-2/5, the player catches a short putt in his other hand below the level of the lip of the hole.  Even though the ball was within the circumference of the hole and below the level of the lip, it was not at rest.  In this case the ball was not holed and the player is penalized under Rule 1-2 for influencing the movement of his ball and would lose the hole in match play and incur two penalty strokes in stroke play.

2 comments:

  1. But then again, it isn't necessary for the ball to come to rest either. In Decision 16/5.5, the ball does not have to come to rest, but can be still bouncing around the bottom of the cup, as long as it is not likely to bounce out again.

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    1. Neil,

      Absolutely correct, that Decision gives us an Exception to the meaning of "at rest." Specifically it states, "The words 'at rest' are in the Definition of 'Holed' to make it clear that if a ball falls below the lip of the hole and thereafter bounces out it is not holed." The Decision does not give permission for a player to grab the ball out of the hole on the first bounce if there is any possibility it could bounce out. I always think of the replay of Greg Norman's long putt on 11 at the Masters that bounces so high you can see the ball pop above the lip before going back in. Glad to see you're reading the blog Neil! Good luck this summer, hope to see you out there.

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