A Ruling on our November Rules Page
We got several letters commenting on Golf Digest's Rules column (page 60) in the November issue. They don't all agree, so you tell us who is right. First up is Florida reader Joan Savlon:
__I am an avid golfer for 53 years now and upon reading your Digest Article on Rules (How to avoid trouble in a bunker) I am in disagreement with the third paragraph which states:>
"If you play a wrong ball from a bunker, you lose the hole in match play or incur a two-shot penalty in stroke play." (Rule 15-3) Not so.Actually Rule 15-3 reads: __
__a. Match Play>
If a player makes a stroke at a wrong ball that is not in a hazard, he loses the hole.>
There is no penalty if a player makes a stroke at a wrong ball in a hazard. Any strokes made at a wrong ball in a hazard do not count in the player's score.>
If the wrong ball belongs to another player, its owner must place a ball on the spot from which the wrong ball was first played.>
And so on. >
b. Stroke Play>
If a competitor makes a stroke or strokes at a wrong ball that is not in a hazard, he incurs a penalty of two strokes.>
There is no penalty if a competitor makes a stroke at a wrong ball in a hazard. Any strokes made at a wrong ball in a hazard do not count in the competitor 's score.>
Joan suggests a retraction.
Roger Oddson, Sun City West, takes another view:
Very confusing article on "Buried, but not dead". One paragraph says that you should remove enough sand to see that it is a ball but no more. That was the old rule. Now you can lift the ball for identification. Please clarify.
We will. The verdict:
Roger is right. The rule that Joan quotes was revised in 2008. To quote the USGA Rules notes on these changes:
__Rule 15-3. Wrong Ball -— Amended to remove the exemption from penalty for playing a wrong ball in a hazard (see corresponding change to Rule 12-2, allowing the player to lift a ball for identification in a hazard). __
__Rule 12-2. Identifying Ball -— Amended to allow a player to lift his ball for identification in a hazard (see corresponding change to Rule 15-3, removing the exemption from penalty for playing a wrong ball in a hazard). __
Here is the old and new verbiage:
Except in a hazard, if a player has reason to believe a ball is his, he may lift . . . __
__If the player fails to comply with all or any part of this procedure, or if he lifts his ball for identification in a hazard, he incurs a penalty of one stroke. >
2008 If a player has reason to believe a ball at rest is his and it is necessary to lift the ball in order to identify it, he may lift....
If the ball is the player's ball and he fails to comply with all or any part of this procedure or he lifts his ball in order to identify it when not necessary to do so, he incurs a penalty of one stroke.
We'll assess ourselves a one-stroke penalty for lack of clarity. Thank you both for your letters.