Rule of the Month: Reflections on Deflections
By Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
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Rule 11 - Deflections
Every golfer will experience his or her golf ball being accidentally deflected by something. Much of the time, when this happens, the ball is played as it lies while other times the stroke must be cancelled and replayed. The Rules also cover situations when the player will be required to estimate where the ball would have come to rest if the deflection had not happened and to continue play from there.
Rule 11 deals with deflections of a golf ball and can be a bit confusing when trying to sort things out on the course. Test your knowledge of how to proceed after your ball has been deflected with the following questions.
Questions: True / False
- A tee shot hits a tractor/mower, whether moving or not, and is deflected out of bounds. The player is allowed to continue play from where the ball hit the tractor.
- A tee shot hits a moving tractor/mower and comes to rest on the moving tractor. The ball may be played as it lies.
- The caddie, while attending the flagstick for a putt from the putting green, pulls the hole liner part of the way out of the hole when removing the flagstick. The ball hits the hole liner and is deflected away from the hole. The ball must be played as it lies.
- The player’s caddie, who was attending the flagstick, gets distracted and doesn’t see the player make a stroke. The ball accidentally hits the caddie’s foot and is deflected into the hole. The ball is holed with no penalty.
- In a steep faced bunker, the player’s shot hits the face and is deflected back at the player. The player is unable to avoid the ball hitting him or her. There is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies.
- On the follow-through for a short chip, the club hits the ball again deflecting it off line. The ball is played as it lies. There is no penalty for playing a moving ball, but the player must count the deflection as a second stroke.
- A ball rolling down a cart path is purposely kicked back onto the grass by a spectator. The ball is played as it lies.
- A flagstick lying on the ground, a ball at rest on the putting green or any player’s equipment may be lifted or moved while another ball is in motion to prevent the ball from hitting them.
- A loose impediment or a movable obstruction, such as a rake, may be moved while a ball is in motion to prevent the ball from being deflected or stopped.
- When a ball in play and in motion is deflected by another ball in play and at rest, the ball in motion is always played as it lies and the ball that was at rest must be replaced on its original spot.
- False. Rule 11.1b. When a ball is deflected by an outside influence, such as a tractor, the ball must normally be played as it lies. In the case presented, the ball was out of bounds and the player must proceed under the penalty of stroke and distance and play again from the tee. The player’s next stroke will be his or her third.
- False. Rule 11.1b Exception 1. The player is not allowed to play the ball as it lies when the ball comes to rest on any person, animal or moving outside influence (tractor/mower). Free relief is available under Rule 11 and the reference point for taking relief is the spot on the course right under where the ball first came to rest on the tractor/mower. A ball must be dropped within one club-length of this reference point, no closer to the hole.
- False. Rule 11.1b Exception 2. When a ball is played from the putting green and strikes a movable obstruction on the putting green, the stroke must be cancelled and replayed without penalty. Failure to replay from where the previous stroke was made is a breach of Rule 14.7 as the player has played from a wrong place.
- True. Rules 11.1b Exception 2 & 13.2b(2). Because this was accidental and not a deliberate deflection there is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies. In this case, the putt was holed and play of the hole is completed. See question #5 for further explanation.
- True. Rule 11.1b. There is no penalty to any player when the ball accidentally hits any person, including another player in stroke play or an opponent in match play. The ball must be played as it lies unless the stroke was made from the putting green, in which case the stroke is cancelled and replayed. See question #4 regarding when the ball hits a person attending the flagstick.
- False. Rule 10.1a. The player has made just one stroke and even though the club hit the ball more than once, the stroke counts as only one. There is no penalty for accidentally hitting the ball more than once.
- False. Rule 11.2c(1). As this deflection was deliberate and not accidental, the player must take relief based on where the ball would have come to rest if the spectator hadn’t deflected the ball. The player must drop a ball within one club-length of the estimated spot where the ball would have come to rest but not nearer the hole.
- True. Rule 11.3 Exception. While a ball is in motion, a removed flagstick and any player’s equipment may be moved to eliminate a deflection. A ball at rest on the putting green may also be lifted while another ball is in motion provided the spot is properly marked with a ball-marker prior to lifting it. See question #9 for further clarity.
- False. Rule 11.3. Any loose impediment or movable obstruction may be moved prior to the player playing. However, once the ball is in motion, a loose impediment or movable obstruction that might affect the movement of the ball must not be moved deliberately to prevent the object from stopping or deflecting the ball. See question #8 for exceptions to this Rule.
- True. Rule 11.1. Another ball at rest is considered an outside influence and since it belongs to another player, it must be replaced on its original spot, which if unknown must be estimated. The ball in motion has simply been deflected by an outside influence and is played as it lies. If both balls were on the putting green before the stroke was made, the player making the stroke gets two penalty strokes.