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So, what is the appropriate ruling for throwing your club at your ball in frustration? Well, here is a Q&A based on this incident taken directly from my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’;
Q.537: After missing a short putt Mark throws his club in the air in frustration. Unfortunately, he doesn’t catch it cleanly on the way down and it falls onto his ball, moving it away from the hole. What is the ruling?If the ball had still been moving when the player’s club hit it there would still be a one stroke penalty, but when this happens the relevant Rule is 19-2, which requires the ball to be played from where it comes to rest. This ruling is confirmed in Decision 14/6, which ironically, also rules that if a player instinctively throws his putter towards their ball, but misses, there is no penalty, as their action does not count as a stroke and their ball was not moved.
Answer: Mark is penalised one stroke for moving his ball in play and must replace his ball. Rule 18-2a.
Note: If equipment of the player or his partner causes the ball to move the player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced.
Fortunately, Mike Clayton did not incur an additional penalty when the ball went on to hit his arm while he was lying prone on the ground. Decision 1-4/12 confirms that when a single act results in one Rule being breached more than once the player only incurs a single penalty.
Of course, Mike Clayton’s biggest penalty was that he will never be allowed to forget this amusing (for us) golfing incident.
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Very best wishes,
Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’