I received an interesting question about whether or not a player may lift his ball to determine whether he is entitled to relief under a rule. The player had hit a chip shot across a green and it came to rest in a golf ball sized depression in the fringe, so only about half of the ball was visible. The ball was either sitting in someone else’s plug mark, was in a drain hole or on a small sprinkler head. The player had no way of telling what the situation was unless he lifted the ball. He decided to play it as it lies and he ended up hitting a bad shot. It turned out that ball was on a small sprinkler head and he would have been entitled to relief.
According to Decision 20 – 1/0.7: “In equity (Rule 1-4), if a player has reason to believe he is entitled to relief from a condition, the player may lift his ball, without penalty, provided he announces his intention in advance to his opponent in match play or his marker or fellow competitor in stroke play, marks the position of the ball before lifting it, does not clean the ball and gives his opponent or fellow competitor an opportunity to observe the lifting.
If the ball lies in a position that entitles the player to relief, he may take relief under the applicable Rule. If the player is entitled to relief and fails to comply with this procedure, there is no penalty provided he takes relief under the applicable Rule (see Decision 18-2a/12).
If the ball does not lie in a position from which the player is entitled to relief, or if the player is entitled to relief but decides not to take it, the ball must be replaced, and the opponent, marker or fellow competitor must be give the opportunity to observe the replacement. If a player who is required to replace the ball fails to do so before making a stroke, he incurs a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play under Rule 20-3a, but there is no additional penalty for failure to comply with the procedure for lifting under Rule 20-1 or 21.
If the player lifts a ball without having reason to believe that it lies in a position from which he is entitled to relief without penalty or if the ball does not lie in a position which entitles the player to relief and the player fails to comply with this procedure, he incurs a penalty of one stroke but there is no additional penalty under Rule 20-1 0r 21.”
Knowing the Rules of Golf could have afforded the player the opportunity to seek relief from his situation and led to better score on the hole. Take some time to review the rules, you would be surprised how it may help your game somewhere down the line. If you have a question about the Rules of Golf please submit to me for The Ask The Pro Show on Twitter.
Frank Guastella, PGA Rules Official Michigan Section PGA
Staff Writer, Mike Fay Golf
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