Friday, 14 December 2012

Avoid Playing a Wrong Ball

Home-made ball marker using a standard PVC 1-1/4 coupling

If you are in receipt of my weekly ‘Rhodes Rules School’ emails (either the photo series or ‘How Many Strokes?’) you will be aware that I have just made my ‘99 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’ available as a simple, downloadable .pdf file, which can be read on any computer, laptop, or tablet (see below for details).

I am taking this opportunity to highlight what I think is one of the most important tips from my list of 99, which is to ensure that you put personal identification marks on all your golf balls, so that you can immediately recognise them. In my experience, having a distinct personal identification mark on your golf balls is the easiest way to avoid playing a wrong ball and can save you many penalty strokes over the course of a year. I have a theory that there are probably over 100 Titleist balls, numbered 1 - 4, on most golf courses at any time, either in play, or having been abandoned as lost. The chances are that if you are playing this particular brand of ball, without any personal identification mark, you will regularly play the wrong ball by mistake.

Although Rule 12-2 states that players should put identifications marks on their golf balls my strong recommendation is that you make this a must. In fact, my recommendation is that you also draw a line on your golf balls, preferably all around the central circumference of the ball. You can then use this line to point along your intended line of play before making your stroke on the both the teeing grounds and the putting greens. I am aware that some ‘experts’ claim that this is against the Rules, but Decision 20-3a/2 is definitive;

Q. May a player draw a line on his ball and, when replacing his ball, position the ball so that the line or the trademark on the ball is aimed to indicate the line of play?
A. Yes.
Be bold with the personal identification mark that you use. There was a good illustration of a tournament player getting it wrong last October, when Scottish golfer, Stephen Gallacher, was penalised two strokes during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He had played his second shot from the fairway, when he realised that the amateur playing in his Pro-Am group was still looking for his ball. Here is Gallacher’s version of what happened;
“On 16, I hit my tee shot down the left and the mistake I made was not really watching where the amateur hit it. When I got down there was only one ball sitting and I was just happy it wasn't in the bunker.
Then the amateur, who was standing about five yards left in the rough, said, ‘Have you seen my ball? I’ve got one here but it’s not mine’.  It turns out it was mine.
We were both playing Titleist 1s, his marked with a red dot and mine a green. Unfortunately the way it was sitting I couldn't see the marking. From now on I think I’ll look a bit closer.”
So, Gallacher’s single identification dot on his ball (which as it happened was red and not green) was not visible in the position that the ball lay and two players happened to be playing the same brand and number ball. Gallacher therefore incurred a penalty of two strokes for playing a wrong ball, Rule 15-3b, and had to correct his mistake by playing his own ball from where it had come to rest following his drive.

There are 98 more tips about the Rules of Golf in my eDocument, ‘99 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’, a downloadable Adobe .pdf file which can be read on any computer, laptop, or tablet. This will definitely save you penalty strokes and add to the enjoyment of your game. Please check this link for more details.

Good golfing,

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

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