Rule of the Month: An Object at Rest
Ball at Rest Moved by the Player
The new Rules have cleared up some of the confusion about what to do when a ball at rest has been moved by the player other than by a stroke. However, determining if the player incurs a penalty for causing the ball to move is still confusing and many exceptions may exonerate the player of penalty. Where on the course, and when the ball moves, must be looked at in order to determine if a penalty applies. One thing that should always be remembered is that every time the player moves the ball, other than by a stroke or when proceeding under a relief Rule, it must be replaced.
Test your knowledge with the following questions regarding when a player causes their ball at rest to move.
- A player takes a practice swing in the fairway and accidentally hits the ball with the toe of his club, moving the ball a few inches. There is a one-stroke penalty and the ball must be played from its new location.
- A player takes a practice swing on the putting green and accidentally hits the ball with the toe of his club, moving the ball a few inches. There is no penalty and the ball is replaced on the original spot.
- A player accidentally kicks her ball in the fairway causing it to move, and she is uncertain of its original spot. She gets one penalty stroke and must drop the ball within one club-length of an estimated point.
- There is no penalty for causing your ball to move when trying to find or identify it.
- A player’s ball is at rest against a bunker rake. The player moves the rake and the ball moves. There is no penalty and the ball must be replaced on the original spot.
- As the player is determining the nearest point of complete relief from a cart path, he accidentally kicks his ball that was still lying on the path.He must replace the ball and add one penalty stroke.
- A player takes several practice swings about a foot from the ball. She then decides to select a different club for the stroke and while doing so the ball moves. She is considered to have caused her ball to move because of the practice swings and incurs one penalty stroke.
- There is no penalty for accidentally causing your ball to move on the putting green. The ball must be replaced on the original spot.
- As a player is marking the spot of the ball to lift it for identification, he accidentally causes the ball to move. There is no penalty and he must replace the ball.
- The original ball must be used when the player is required to replace a ball that was accidentally moved by the player.
- False. Rule 9.4b. The practice swing was not a stroke at the ball but the player has caused his ball in play to move and must add one penalty stroke. The player is required to replace the ball on the original spot or proceed under an applicable Rule.
- True. Rule 13.1d. When a player accidentally causes his ball to move on the putting green there is no penalty. As noted in answer #1, a practice swing is not a stroke at the ball and the player must replace the ball on the original spot with no penalty. These first two questions are purposely similar to highlight how different an incident on the putting green is treated as opposed to the general area of the course.
- False. Rules 9.4a and 14.2. The player gets one penalty stroke for causing her ball in play to move. However, under the new Rules, when the original location of a ball that must be replaced is unknown it must be estimated and the ball replaced on the estimated spot.
- True. Rule 9.1b Exception 2 and Rule 7.4. A player may take reasonable actions to find and identify a ball, and if the ball moves, there is no penalty. The ball must be replaced on the original spot which if unknown must be estimated. If the ball had been deep in tall grass, to properly replace on the original or an estimated spot, it must be replaced deep in the grass.
- True. Rules 9.4b Exception 4 and Rule 15.2a. Provided the player uses reasonable actions when removing the rake, there is no penalty for causing the ball to move. The ball must be replaced on the original spot.
- False. Rule 9.4b Exception 4. When a player is using reasonable actions to determine whether relief is available, or where the nearest point of complete relief is located, if the ball is accidentally moved, there is no penalty and the player must replace the ball or take the relief if desired.
- False. Rule 9.2b(2). The player is only considered to have moved her ball and incurred a penalty if it is known or virtually certain that she caused it to move. In this case, since the movement of the ball didn’t occur immediately and the practice swings were some distance away from the ball, it is not virtually certain that she caused the ball to move. Therefore, the ball is treated as having been moved by natural forces and must be played from its new location. Virtually certain is now defined as 95% likely that the event in question happened.
- True. Rule 13.1d(1) and 9.4b Exception 3. When a ball is accidentally moved by the player on the putting green, there is no penalty no matter how it happens. However, accidentally forgetting to mark the spot of the ball before lifting it would not fall under this exception and the player would get one penalty stroke.
- True. Rule 9.4. When a player is allowed to mark and lift his ball, there is no penalty for accidentally causing it to move while doing so, provided he was using reasonable actions to apply the Rule.
- True. Rule 6.3b. The permission to substitute a ball has been greatly expanded in the new Rules. But when a player is required to replace a ball on a spot, such as when the ball has been lifted or the player caused it to move, the player is not allowed to substitute a ball and must replace the original ball.