Rule of the Month: Bust a Move
By Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
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Ball at Rest Moved
The Rules of Golf are very specific regarding when a ball at rest moves or is moved from its original spot other than by a stroke. The Rules recognize just four possible causes and even cover situations when the cause is unknown. Several Rules protect a player from penalty for accidentally moving a ball, but every player should use caution when near a ball in play as other situations include a penalty for causing a ball to move.
This topic was covered in our April and May articles in 2019, but it continues to be a source of confusion on the course. It is one of the most frequent situations that referees must sort out. Reviewing the two articles in the OGA Rule of the Month archives might assist in answering the following questions regarding what caused the ball to move, if there is any penalty to the player and where the next stroke needs to be made from.
Questions: True / False
- In an attempt to find the ball, a player sweeps back and forth with his or her feet in long grass. The player moves the ball accidentally. There is no penalty.
- The player gets a one stroke penalty for lifting the ball in play when not allowed to do so, or failing to mark its location properly before lifting.
- While attempting to determine the nearest point of complete relief from a cart path, the player accidentally kicks the ball prior to lifting it to take relief. There is no penalty.
- There is no penalty when the player accidentally causes the ball to move on the putting green, no matter how that happens.
- When the ball is in the general area, penalty area or a bunker, there is a one stroke penalty for accidentally causing the ball to move when a club is placed on the ground behind or in front of it to prepare for a stroke.
- While marking and lifting a ball for identification in a penalty area, the player moves the ball as he or she places a tee behind it. There is no penalty.
- After lifting and replacing the ball on the putting green, wind moves it to a new location. The ball must be replaced on the original spot where it was replaced by the player.
- A ball at rest moved by an animal must be replaced on the original spot, which if unknown must be estimated and the ball placed on the estimated spot.
- A ball at rest that is moved by another ball in motion must be replaced.
- If it is not known or virtually certain that a ball has moved, it must be played as it lies.
- True. Rules 7.4 & 9.4b. Player’s are allowed to use reasonable actions to find and identify their ball and there is no penalty for accidentally causing the ball to move. Reasonable actions may also include shaking a tree in an attempt to find the ball by dislodging it.
- True. Rules 9.4b & 14.1a. Unless a Rule allows the player to lift the ball, it must not be lifted or deliberately touched. And when a ball is lifted and must be replaced on its original spot, it must be properly marked before lifting.
- True. Rule 9.4b Exception 4. As this ball is moved accidentally by the player while taking reasonable actions to take relief under a Rule, there is no penalty for causing the ball to move.
- True. Rule 9.4b Exception 3. The wording of this question is exactly the same as the Rule Exception. However, it must be noted that the cause of the movement must be accidental and not deliberate.
- True. Rule 9.4b. There are many situations in the Rules when a player is exonerated from penalty for accidentally causing the ball to move. However, as this player is not searching for the ball or applying a Rule, there is a one stroke penalty for causing the ball to move and the ball must be replaced on the original spot before making the next stroke.
- True. Rule 9.4b Exception 4. There is no penalty when a player accidentally causes the ball to move while taking reasonable actions to mark the spot of the ball or to lift it. Therefore, even if the player had dropped the coin or ball-marker on the ball and moved it, there would be no penalty.
- True. Rules 9.3 & 13.1d(2). In this case the ball has been moved by natural forces. But since the player had already marked, lifted and replaced the ball on the putting green, it must be played from the original spot it was lifted from.
- True. Rule 9.6. When it is known or virtually certain that the ball has been moved by an outside influence (i.e. animal), it must be replaced on the original spot. If there is uncertainty that the ball was moved by the animal, it must be played as it lies. If the spot where the ball must be replaced is unknown, it must be estimated and the ball replaced on that spot.
- True. Rule 9.6. This answer is very similar to the above. The ball has been moved by an outside influence and must be replaced. Failure to replace and playing the ball from the new location is a breach of Rule 14.7 for playing from a wrong place.
- True. Rule 9.2a. If it is not known or virtually certain that the ball has moved, it must be played as it lies. The same known or virtually certain standard is used to determine what caused the ball to move. If it is not known or virtually certain that the ball was moved by the player, an opponent in match play or an outside influence, including any other player in stroke play, the ball is treated as having been moved by natural forces.