Playing By The Rules

I had an interesting Rules situation arise while officiating at a Blue Water Junior Golf Tour event at the Port Huron Golf  Club a few weeks ago.  On the sixteenth hole, lying in some heavy grass was an abandoned ball which had broken into pieces.  A player hit their tee shot into the heavy grass.  The player arrived at the spot where they had thought that their ball had landed, found what they thought was their ball and hit it.  After hitting the shot, and realizing what they hit was a piece of the ball, the player walked forward about fifteen feet and found their ball, which was the same brand as the abandoned broken ball.  The player then hit their ball and finished play of the hole and recorded their score not counting the stroke taken with the abandoned ball.

On the next tee before teeing off,  the player called me over to tell me what had happened.  I told the player that they would have to add two strokes to the score they had made on the previous hole because the stroke they made with the abandoned ball was a stroke made at a wrong ball.  The player argued with me saying that the abandoned broken ball is not a ball and therefore they had not played a wrong ball.  I took out my decisions book and referred the player to Decision 15/3 Player Plays Stroke at Part of Abandoned Ball Which Had Broken Into Pieces.  This exact situation had happened before and had been ruled on.  According to the Decision, the player had made a stroke with a wrong ball and thus incurred a two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 15 – 3b.  The Rule states that if a competitor in stroke play makes a stroke or strokes at a wrong ball, he incurs a penalty of two strokes.

Frank Guastella, PGA Rules Official Michigan Section PGA
Staff Writer, Mike Fay Golf
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