Rule 19-1, Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped by Outside Agency, now includes an expansion to the Note to prescribe various outcomes when a ball in motion has been deliberately deflected or stopped by an outside agency. To quote the Rule Book:
“Note: If a player’s ball in motion has been deliberately deflected or stopped by an outside agency:
(a) After stroke from anywhere other than on the putting green, the spot where the ball would have come to rest must be estimated. If the spot is:
(i)through the green or in a hazard, the ball must be dropped as near as possible to that spot;
(ii)out of bounds, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1; or
(iii)on the putting green, the ball must be placed on that spot.
(b) After stroke on the putting green, the stroke is cancelled. The ball must be replaced and replayed.
If the outside agent is a fellow-competitor or his caddie, Rule 1-2 applies to the fellow-competitor.
(Players ball deflected or stopped by another ball – See Rule 19-5)”
Formerly, Rule 19-1 provided that if a players ball was “purposely” deflected or stopped by an outside agency (eg: a spectator), the principles of equity were applied to determine the point from where the ball was to be played. A number of rules decisions provided guidance. The new note to 19-1 clarifies this situation. Thomas Pagel, the Senior Director of Rules of Golf for the USGA, explained that these changes were driven by a desire to add more certainty to the rule.
Frank Guastella, PGA Master Professional
Michigan PGA Rules Official
Staff Writer for Mike Fay Golf