Friday, 20 April 2012

Ball Moving After Address – Rule 18-2b

Photo: perfectconnectiongolfswing.com














Following the recent amendment to Rule 18-2b I think that readers might welcome some examples of the circumstances in which a penalty is incurred. The situation is far from simple. First, this is the revised wording;
If a player’s ball in play moves after he has addressed it (other than as a result of a stroke), the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke.
The ball must be replaced, unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.

Exception: If it is known or virtually certain that the player did not cause his ball to move, Rule 18-2b does not apply.
It is likely, that the incident that caused this Rule to be revised occurred at the unusually windy 2008 British Open at Royal Birkdale, when a player, whose ball lay in a bunker, was wary of even approaching it, as he was concerned that the strong winds could cause the ball to move at any moment. After he had eventually taken his stance the ball did move. There was no doubt that it was the wind that caused the ball to move, yet the player incurred a penalty. This situation caused concern to the Ruling Bodies as there was no way the player could have protected himself from penalty (as he could have done through the green or on the putting green by not grounding his club). There were several subsequent situations, mostly on the putting green, that brought the Rule under even more scrutiny. While the old Rule was black and white, it could sometimes result in inequitable penalties being incurred in situations where the player had obviously not caused their ball to move.

I am providing my opinion of the appropriate ruling in 6 different scenarios. However, the cause of the ball moving can be subjective and I am avoiding the issue that I blogged about last week of how far behind the ball is ‘immediately’ in this context. Remember, that stance is no longer a requirement for addressing ball (see this link).

1. On a windless day, on a level putting green, a player grounds their club immediately behind their ball and as they prepare to make their stroke the ball moves. It is not known whether the grounding of the club was the cause of the ball moving.
Ruling: one stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced, Rule 18-2b.
Note: As there is no obvious reason why the ball moved after the player had addressed it the player is deemed to have moved it.

2. On a windy day, on a level putting green, a player grounds their club immediately behind their ball and as they prepare to make their stroke the ball moves. It is obvious that the wind caused the ball to move.
Ruling: no penalty and the ball must be played from where it came to rest, Exception to Rule 18-2b.
Note: It was known or virtually certain that it was the wind that caused the ball to move and not the player.

3. On a windless day, on a putting green steeply sloping down to the hole, a player grounds their club immediately behind their ball and as they prepare to make their stroke the ball moves nearer to the hole. Everyone present agrees that the player could not have caused their ball to move.
Ruling: (edited 21st April 2012) one stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced, Decision 18-2b/11.
Note: Decision 18-2b/11 confirms that gravity is not in itself an element that should be considered when applying the Exception to Rule 18-2b and so the player is still deemed to have moved their ball after taking address.

4. Through the green, a player takes their stance but does not ground their club and their ball moves. Everyone present agrees that the player could not have caused their ball to move.
Ruling: no penalty and the ball must be played from where it came to rest, Decision 18-2b/1.
Note: Stance is not now a requirement for addressing the ball.
5. In the rough, a player grounds their club a short distance behind their ball, so as not to disturb the long grass growing around it. After a second or so the ball sinks further into the grass. Everyone present agrees that the player could not have caused their ball to move.
Ruling: no penalty and the ball must be played from where it came to rest, Decision 18-2b/4.
Note: The player had not grounded their club in front of or immediately behind the ball within the Definition of Address.

6. A player’s ball is at rest. They rest their club on the grass immediately behind their ball and it moves.
Ruling: penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced, Decision 18-2b/5.
Note: If the club has been rested on the grass to the point where it would support the weight of the club, the club is considered to be grounded, so the ball has been addressed and Rule 18-2b applies.
You will note that if a player grounds their club according the Definition and there is no obvious cause of the ball moving such as wind or another element, the player is still deemed to have moved their ball under Rule 18-2b. Of course, there is no change in the Rules where a player does cause their ball to move; there is a one stroke penalty under Rule 18-2a, notwithstanding the weather conditions prevailing or the slope at where the ball was at rest, and the ball must be replaced.

I think most Rules enthusiasts welcome this change to the Rules, but as I said at the start it is still far from simple to arrive at the correct ruling.

Good golfing,





The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.

I am delighted at the positive response to my three quizzes on the Rules of Golf; Juniors, Match Play and General. I have developed these quizzes for use in Golf Clubs and Societies who wish to raise the awareness of Rules amongst their members. Click here for more details.

26 comments:

JEV said...

There still are some situations to consider. For example, the ball lays on a sloped green, the ball is held in position by the force of the wind. As soon as the player grounds his club behind the ball, the wind is no longer pushing hard enough against the ball to keep it in place and thus the ball moves towards the club. Is this to be penalized? The player can't help it, at one point he needs to address his ball!

Barry Rhodes said...

JEV,

This situation is covered by Decision 18-2b/12. The player incurs a penalty stroke under Rule 18-2b and the ball must be replaced, because the player was deemed to have moved it after they had taken their address. A further penalty under Rule 19-2 (Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped by Player) does not apply in these circumstances, as the act of his clubhead stopping the ball was related to the initial act of his ball moving after address - see Principle 4 of Decision 1-4/12.

Barry

Rogaman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

In an unrelated issue, the following occured.....ball at rest on the green, putting up hill to the hole, ball curls around the hole and begins to move back down the slope, the player steps in and putts the moving ball back to the hole, sinking it. What rule and what penalty incurred?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The stroke that the player made by putting the ball into the hole counts and there is an additional penalty of two strokes for playing a moving ball (Rule 14-5). So, if the player's putt up the hill to the hole was their 4th stroke they holed out in 7 strokes.

Barry

Anonymous said...

While putting the wind causes the ball to move as you hit the ball. Any penalty?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

There is no penalty, providing it was known or virtually certain that it was the wind that caused the ball to move.

Part of Rule 14-5 states;

When the ball begins to move only after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of his club for the stroke, he incurs no penalty under this Rule for playing a moving ball, but he is not exempt from any penalty under the following Rules:

• Ball at rest moved by player – Rule 18-2a

• Ball at rest moving after address – Rule 18-2b


With regard to the ball moving after address, theException to Rule 18-2b states;

If it is known or virtually certain that the player did not cause his ball to move, Rule 18-2b does not apply.

Barry

Anonymous said...

What does moving after address mean? I have a friend who when he puts, addresses his ball then touches it with his putter. The ball moves forward then back to its original position then he takes his back swing ans strikes the ball. He says that although th ball wiggled when he touched it after address it did not change positions therefore that is ok. I disagree. Who is correct.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The Definition of 'Moved' at the front of the Rules book states;

A ball is deemed to have “moved’’ if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place.

So there is no penalty if a player touches their ball with their clubhead, before or after address, providing it does not come to rest in a different position to where it was when it was touched.

However, this is a obviously a bad habit, as the ball will inevitably move off its spot on occasions.

Barry

Karl Hoffman said...

I had a very unusual situation today. As I was about to strike the ball on the putting green, the ball moved. It was too late to stop the swing, and I literally hit a ball in motion. We all agree that I'm exonerated from the ball movement penalty, but what about the fact that I hit it while it was moving? We didn't know what to do, and I was in a tournament! The players I was will felt I was penalized enough by the fact that this movement caused me to miss a 2 foot putt. Could I have put the ball back, even though I already struck it? That doesn't seem right. Is it a penalty because I did strike it?

Barry Rhodes said...

Karl,

You were all wrong in assuming that you were exonerated from the ball movement penalty under Rule 18-2b, part of which states;

If a player’s ball in play moves after he has addressed it (other than as a result of a stroke), the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke.

The ball must be replaced, unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.


Golfers often misread the second sentence and assume that there is no penalty if the ball moves after they have begun the backward movement of their stroke, but this sentence only clarifies the fact that the ball (obviously) does not have to be replaced.

Barry

Anonymous said...

In a competition this weekend on a very windy day, my playing partner marked his ball on the green, picked it up and cleaned it. After replacing the ball and removing his marker but before addressing his ball, the ball rolled around 10 feet from its original position. Where should he have played his next shot from,from where it finished or from where he originally marked it.
Thanks
Ashley

Barry Rhodes said...

Ashley

The ball should have been played from where the wind moved it to, without penalty. The ball was in play as soon as it had been placed and was at rest (even if the ball-marker is still in place). There is no penalty when it is known that wind moved the ball and it must be played from where it rolled to.

Barry

Anonymous said...

If the exception to Rule 18-2 b applies, which rule specifies that the ball must be played from its new position ?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Rules 18-1 to 18-6 require that a ball that has been moved by a player, caddie, equipment, another ball or an outside agent to be replaced. Although it is not stated explicitly in this Rule, it is logical that if a ball moves for any other reason (e.g. wind, water or earthquake, which are not outside agencies) it must be played from where it comes to rest. See Decision 18-1/12 for confirmation.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
In your #3 scenario you include the note that "gravity is not in itself an element that should be considered".

Where in the rule is this stated ?

It seems to me that the case described would have come under the "certain or virtually certain" category and no penalty applied, especially on a sloping green where a blade or 2 of grass can collapse and cause a ball to roll.

Consider the physics - a ball is subject to constant gravity whether it is moving or stationary. Since "gravity" was constant, the ball must have moved because the contact between ball and green changed. A penalty in this situation does not appear consistent with the rule.

rgds
Ian

Barry Rhodes said...

Ian,

I should have made reference to Decision 18-2b/11, part of which states;

...therefore, unless it is known or virtually certain that some agency other than gravity (e.g., outside agency or wind) caused the ball to move after address, the player is subject to a one stroke penalty under Rule 18-2b and must replace the ball.

Consequently, a player must be even more careful when they address their ball on a slope, as gravity makes it more likely for them to cause their ball as they ground their club, due to vibration or moving a grass which has a domino effect on moving other grasses nearby.

Barry

Anonymous said...

At a competition recently my ball came to rest on a severe upslope on the first cut next to the green. I stepped up to about 2½ feet from the ball and grounded my putter about 20cm to the side of the ball. The ball suddenly rolled down the hill.
I had not adressed it - but the tiny tremor of my steps could have made it move - or gravity. ruling?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

It's difficult to make a ruling on this without having witnessed the circumstance. There was no penalty under Rule 18-2b, as you had not addressed your ball. So, it comes down to whether your action in grounding the club to the side of the ball was the cause of the ball moving. If there was any wind on the day I would probably give you the benefit of doubt; if it was a calm, windless day I would probably deduce that the action of grounding the club could have started a domino effect of moving grass, causing the ball to move. In these cases it is best to ask your marker/fellow competitors for their opinions, so that your score will not be challenged when you sign your card.

Barry

Anonymous said...

hi Barry, if playing on a green which is covered in hollow tine holes, ball is resting on edge of one high point on one of these holes. Club is placed lightly on ground about 2 inches behind ball to line up for putt, but before putting, ball then drops into the lower part of the hole on edge it was precariously balanced on. what is ruling for both windy and non windy days. I would discern addressing ball as meaning placing club immediately behind ball as literally that, almost touching the ball. Thanks.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

This is a very subjective issue. For example, if the player always grounds his club two inches behind the ball then he has grounded his club in the circumstance that you describe and would incur a penalty under Rule 18-2b, unless it is known or virtually certain that it was the wind that caused the ball to move. If the player usually grounds his club very close to the ball, but on this occasion grounds it two inches behind the ball he has not addressed the ball under the revised definition and does not incur a penalty, unless it is known or virtually certain that he caused his ball to move, which could happen if he drops his club to the ground and the vibration, or domino effect of the depressed grass, causes his ball to topple into the hollow tine hole.

Any doubt should be ruled against the player, as there is no exception for gravity moving a ball and if it has been at rest for several seconds before the player moves to it and grounds his club, then it should be assumed that he was the cause of it moving.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi there
Just wanted to know what is thec correct ruling on the following situation: on a windless dry, day, I marked my ball on the green, which was sloping downwards towards the hole. I then cleaned my ball, placed it back on the green and removed my marker. I then was making a practise putt stroke behind the ball when it suddenly rolled just alittle (1 or 1.5 rotations) down the slope and stopped again. I did not touch the ball at all. Please advise.
Thanks

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Providing it was known or virtually certain that it was not you that caused your ball to move there was no penalty and the ball had to be played from where it rolled to. However, if you grounded your putter near to where your ball was at rest on the sloping putting green, this may have caused your ball to move. If this was the likely case then you incurred a penalty of one stroke and the ball had to be replaced.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Bubba Watson should have taken a penalty on the last hole of the Memorial Tournament today at Muirfiled according to this rule.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I didn't see this incident, but most professional players would be aware of this Rule, which received a lot of publicity following the amendment in January 2012.

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

With reference to my reply above I have now found this official comment confirming that Bubba Watson did not incur a penalty in this incident;

“It looked like he may have just touched it, but the ball didn’t move,” said Slugger White, a vice president of rules and competition for the Tour.

Under Rule 18-2a, a player can touch a golf ball at address as long as the ball doesn’t move out of its original position, which Watson’s did not."


Barry