GOLF Australia has highlighted this timely golf rules video on the often asked situation where a ball moves after being marked on the putting green.
In the bad old days – until quite recently that is – a golfer was penalised even if through no fault of their own, say by a strong wind, the ball moved after being marked.
The R & A changed that rule to remove the penalty in such circumstance.
However, as is stated in the video, there is often confusion, even at the highest levels, about whether the ball should be returned to its previous location.
The short answer is: no.
This happened to me in the Wednesday comp at my local club at Jamberoo this week.
About to address a three foot putt, a wind gust blew it a few inches sideways.
There’s often just a mild attack of alarm in such circumstances and your mind can race – I hadn’t actually addressed the ball, there’s no longer a penalty, is there? Do I put it back in its original location?
Even though there was a very savvy rules person present, in that instant he wasn’t 100 percent certain if I should replace the ball.
To be sure, he said, the only safe thing to do was to play two balls and make absolutely certain of the correct rule later.
The bad thing is, I played two balls and missed the putt both times. Each got around half my attention.
What I should have done, as is made clear in the Golf Australia video, is played the ball from its new resting place.
I’ve also included a link below to an R&A Rules video that further emphasises the point that it doesn’t matter whether you have addressed the ball or not, as long as the golfer has not caused the ball to move, there is no penalty and the ball should be played where it has come to rest.
Rule 18-2b. Ball Moving After Address
A new Exception is added that exonerates the player from penalty if his ball moves after it has been addressed when it is known or virtually certain that he did not cause the ball to move. For example, if it is a gust of wind that moves the ball after it has been addressed, there is no penalty and the ball is played from its new position.