Golf Rules Quiz No 3

Tony and Joe are playing a course that is wet and muddy.  Both have played their second shots to just short of the green.  Joe is away by a few centimetres.  Tony, thinking his ball will interfere with Joe’s play, marks, lifts and puts it in his pocket so he can hold an umbrella and his clubs.  After Joe plays, Tony goes to replace his ball and finds that Joe has left a divot where his ball marker had been.  Tony then drops his ball as close as possible to its original position, not nearer the hole, chips onto the putting green and two putts.  `What is Tony’s score for the hole?

a) 7

b) 8

c) 9

d) 10




a).   Tony is not permitted to lift his ball because he thinks it might interfere with Joe’s play (Rule 22) so he incurs a penalty stroke for lifting his ball when it was not permitted (Rule 18-2a) but there is no additional penalty under Rule 22 so he incurs no penalty for putting the ball in his pocket.  But when he failed to replace the ball according to Rule 20-3b (after Joe altered Tony’s lie) he incurred the general penalty under Rule 18.  Therefore 5 strokes played plus 2 penalty strokes equals a score of  7.

NB If Joe had requested Tony to lift his ball because of interference (Rule 22-2) that would have been OK but Tony would then have been penalised for cleaning the ball when he put it in his pocket. (In that situation you lift and hold the ball between fore-finger and thumb until it is replaced).

This golf rules quiz item supplied by Cliff Nunn, a VGA state acredited rules official and proprietor of Golf Clubs Down Under.

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Brian is an award winning golf writer and is the founder and editor of Australian Senior Golfer. He is a former Sydney journalist who had little interest in golf till he hit his first ball at the age of 49 (and a half). Since then golf has just about overtaken his life. Brian founded ASG in April 2008 and has since covered every Australian Open, Presidents Cups, World Cups and numerous other big men’s and women’s tournaments, spending days inside the ropes with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Karrie Webb, and many others. He has also played in, and reported on, numerous amateur tournaments, particularly senior and veteran events, around the country. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association and won the award for Best News Report for 2016 - 2017


  1. Ref your solution to Quiz no3 – specifically the comments under ‘NB’. I have found nothing in the rules/decision book dictating how the ball must be held or referring to a ball being put in a pocket in discussions on the ball cleaning issue.
    The answer in decision 21/3 may cover this situation – ‘whether the ball is cleaned is a question of fact’ and ‘any doubt should be resolved against the player’.
    Most prudent players would hold the ball as you suggest and not place it in their pocket to avoid any claim of infringement.
    Thanks for the opportunity to comment


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