Golf Rules Quiz No 6

QUESTION: In a stableford round Tom putted up just 50 cm short of the hole, he properly marked his ball, put the ball in his pocket and tended the flag for the other players. By accident when replacing the ball on the mark he substituted another ball and subsequently sunk the putt?

What is the ruling?

  1. Tom is penalized two strokes and must replace the proper ball on the mark before putting out
  2. Tom is penalized one stroke and must re-take the putt using the original ball
  3. Tom is penalized two strokes and the putt counts

ANSWER:  (3) Unfortunately, a penalty of two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play is incurred. The player would have substituted a ball when not permitted to do so (as with a lost ball or ball hit out of bounds). According to Rule 15-2, the second ball would become the ball in play and the penalty ascribed by the applicable rule would be incurred.

(This golf rules quiz item supplied by Cliff Nunn, a VGA state accredited 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. Thanks Cliff..Good question and I believe I know someone who found themselves in this situation. But here is another one along the same lines..In match play, Peter and his opponent Paul realize they have played each other’s ball and they are both on the green for two…What should they do next in accordance with the Rules? Or another one, Peter and Paul both hit into a lateral water hazard and cannot identify exactly where their balls crossed the margins of the water hazard and thus what is the correct order of play and how is it determined in this event situation? My own interest in the Rules stems from having made a few embarrassing blunders while representing my club here in Dublin, Ireland in high handicap match play competitions. Fortunately, another high handicaper on the club team, Barry Rhodes – – is recognized Rules expert and gave me a few pointers, so much so that we ended up developing an iPhone App call Golf Rules Quiz – – with several hundred such questions in multiple choice format. Barry also authored a book “999 Questions on the Rules of Golf”. If you are interested in collaboration re Rules Quizes please let me know at or contact Barry on the website above.

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