Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Placing and Replacing a Ball – Rule 20-3

Photo: golf.about.com















It seems such a simple matter, but there are considerations about placing and replacing a ball that golfers should be aware of. I hope that you find this question and answer format useful.

What is the difference between placing and replacing?
Sometimes the Rules require a ball to be ‘placed’ at a different spot from where it came to rest (e.g. after a ball has been dropped and re-dropped under penalty from an unplayable lie and it has again rolled to a place that makes the drop invalid, it must then be placed at the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped). When the Rules require that the ball is put back at the same spot that it was lifted from it is being ‘replaced’ (e.g. having been marked and lifted from the putting green).

Who may place and replace a ball?
A ball to be placed under the Rules must be placed by the player or his partner. A ball to be replaced under the Rules must be replaced by any one of the following: (i) the person who lifted or moved the ball, (ii) the player, or (iii) the player’s partner.

Is there a penalty if I move my ball-marker while replacing my ball, or move my ball when I am placing my ball marker?

There is no penalty, providing the movement of the ball or ball-marker is directly attributable to the specific act of placing or replacing the ball or removing the ball-marker. However, if you accidentally drop your ball on your ball-marker, causing it to move, then you incur a penalty, as Ian Poulter found to his cost in Dubai in November, 2010. (Click on this link for the details).

What must I do if the original lie of my ball on a fairway or in the rough has been altered?
The ball must be placed in the nearest lie most similar to the original lie that is not more than one club-length away, not nearer the hole and not in a hazard.

What must I do if the original lie of my ball in a bunker has been altered?
The original lie must be re-created as nearly as possible and the ball must be placed in that lie.

What must I do if it is impossible to determine the spot where the ball is to be placed or replaced (e.g. someone wrongly played my ball while I was some way away from it and they threw it back to me)?
If the ball was lying through the green it must be dropped as near as possible to the place where it lay, but not in a hazard or on a putting green; if it was in a hazard, the ball must be dropped in the hazard as near as possible to the place where it lay; if it was on the putting green, the ball must be placed as near as possible to the place where it lay, but not in a hazard.

What must I do if my ball will not come to rest at the spot that I have to place or replace it?
The ball must be placed at the nearest spot where it will come to rest that is not nearer the hole. If it was in a hazard that spot must be in the hazard, if it was not then it must not be placed in a hazard, even if that is where the nearest point is.

What must I do if, after I have placed my ball at rest, it subsequently moves?
The ball is in play as soon as it is at rest, so it must be played from where it moves to, without penalty, whether that is nearer to the hole or farther away from it.

May I (re)place my ball more than once?

If you have replaced your ball at a marker on the putting green you may mark and lift it again (e.g. to line-up markings on the ball to the line of putt). However, a ball that has been (re)placed off the putting green (e.g. when a Local Rule for Preferred Lies is in operation) may not be lifted again once it has come to rest after placing, because it is in play.

What is the penalty if I wrongly substitute a ball when placing or replacing it (i.e. exchange the original ball with another ball)?
The penalty is two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

What is the penalty if I drop a ball that should have been placed, or place a ball that should have been dropped?

The penalty is two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

What is the penalty if a ball that is to be placed or replaced is placed other than on the spot from which it was lifted or moved and the error is not corrected?

The penalty is two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.


(Addition 4th July 2013) If I place my ball at the wrong spot may I correct the error before making my stroke?
Yes, A ball placed at a wrong spot but not played may be lifted, without penalty, and the placed at the correct place (Rule 20-6). 

 
So, placing and replacing is not such a simple matter and can incur unnecessary penalties if not carried out according to the Rules!

Carrying 15 Clubs Costs Irish Pro Golfer Dearly
40-year old Irish Professional golfer, David Higgins, just failed to qualify for The Open Championship at Muirfield the week after next, due to an elementary Rule 4-4 infraction. He was tied second with two other players in a 36-hole qualifier at North Berwick, Scotland, with only three to qualify. The three second-placers were in a two-from-three sudden death playoff when Higgins discovered that he had 15 clubs in his bag. A two-stroke penalty resulted, and he was eliminated with a double bogey on the first extra hole. It seems that he had put his clubs into his car, thinking that he was finished for the day. There was a spare club in the car’s trunk and either he or his caddie, put it into his bag of clubs ready for transporting home.

I am sure that we all feel for David Higgins for being eliminated from the important play-off in this manner, but counting your clubs on the first tee is a habit that all of us should get into. There are eight other tips that I recommend to golfers before they commence any round of golf, in section one of my useful document, ‘99 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’. More details at this link.

Good golfing,




The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2013 and may not be copied without permission.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the limit in length to which a ball can be moved from a competitors line on the green. I.E. a putter head or the length of the putter???

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The Rules do not provide a limit, but the custom is to measure one or two club-head lengths to the side. Part of Decision 20-1/16 states;

"When moving a ball or ball-marker to the side to prevent it from interfering with another player's stance or stroke, the player may measure from the side of the ball or ball-marker. In order to accurately replace the ball on the spot from which it was lifted, the steps used to move the ball or ball-marker to the side should be reversed."

So, the requirement is that the ball can be replaced accurately on the spot that it was originally marked. If I was playing with someone that wanted to mark their ball a club-length to the side I would ask them why. I would then watch them more closely than usual to ensure that they returned their ball to the exact spot that it was marked at.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Can I place the ball on the green, with my ball marker still down, and adjust my aiming line on the ball by twisting the ball? Or do I have to lift the ball each time I want to change the direction of my aiming line?
Thanks!
@GhostOfWildBill

Barry Rhodes said...

Ghost of Wild Bill,

Providing you ball marker is in place, marking where your ball is to be replaced, you can touch, rotate or lift your ball as many times as you like without unduly delaying play.

Barry

Bada said...

Thanks!!!
I've got another question you may or may not be able to answer.
Up in Washington State there is a time of year they play by "winter rules" or as us old timers call it "lift clean and cheat."
One of the local rules associated says "Ball within one club length of tree cannot be moved. Outside one club length, winter rules may apply."
My questions is:
Do you think one club length of tree means from the trunk of the tree, the nearest part of a tree (including branches), or does it mean the foot print of the tree (as if you were looking from the sky down at the tree)?
Thanks,
@GhostOfWildBill

Anonymous said...

If when replacing my ball and trying to line up my putt, an old pitch mark or dimple prevents the ball from resting where I wish, can I replace it slightly to the left or right but no nearer the pin? Or am I confusing this with relief from an aeration hole?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I covered this in the 7th question above. Part of Rule 20-3d states;

"If a ball when placed fails to come to rest on the spot on which it was placed, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced. If it still fails to come to rest on that spot:

(i) except in a hazard, it must be placed at the nearest spot where it can be placed at rest that is not nearer the hole and not in a hazard"


Incidentally, there is no relief from an aeration hole (e.g. caused by pole forking) on the putting green unless there is a temporary Local Rule in operation. If your ball is in an aeration hole when you mark and lift it, you must replace it in that aeration hole.

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Bada,

You would be better of asking the Committee that introduced this rather strange temporary Local Rule.

If I was guessing, I would say that the intent is that the club-length is from the nearest point of the tree trunk to where the ball lies. However, the wording is obviously open to confusion and should certainly be clarified.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Dear Barry, if a player on the green marks his ball and replaces it - lifts the marker up and moves it a few inches to the side and places his marker and then proceeds to putt. This is done on every green as if to help in the alignment of the putter face! Where can I find this rule in the rules book or decisions please,
Thank you,
College Golfer

Barry Rhodes said...

College Golf,

I would penalise the player under Rule 8-2b, part of which says;

A mark must not be placed anywhere to indicate a line for putting.

Barry

Alan Dunne said...

Hi Barry
A playing partner hit his drive into a greenside bunker on a shortish par 4 while the game in front were putting out.
When leaving the green, for whatever reason, one of them seen the ball in the bunker and picked it up thinking he had found a lost ball.
Should the ball of been dropped or placed in a position no nearer the hole
Thanks
Ala.

Barry Rhodes said...

Alan,

This is a somewhat subjective area. If the player can determine the lie and position of the ball before it was moved they may replace the ball in the bunker (Rule 20-3a. However, if the spot was not determinable the ball must be dropped in the hazard as near as possible to the place where it lay (Rule 20-3c). This is why it is often best to get the player who moved the ball to replace it, as they are most likely to know where it was moved from.

Barry

Anonymous said...

bary

must a ball have been marked for the spot to be "determinable" under 20-3c. or if not marked should the ball be dropped instead of placed/replaced.

could you provide a "cheat sheet" for when to drop place and replace other than on the green

mark

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

No there are occasions where a player knows the spot on which to place/replace their ball without it having been marked first (e.g. if it was accidentally moved by a fellow competitor).

As in my comment above, if the position and lie of a ball is known then the ball may be placed, otherwise it must be dropped.

I am planning to write a blog on the subject of when to place and when to drop a ball in the near future (Jan/Feb 2014).

Barry

Anonymous said...

"A" player took relief from water hazard. At first drop the ball rolls back into water hazard, he takes a re-drop and it again rolls back into water hazard. His partner then lift the ball and place it on the spot where it hit part of the course at the second drop (re-drop).

Is this permitted?
---------------

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Yes, a ball to be placed under the Rules must be placed by the player or his partner, Rule 20-3a.

Barry

Anonymous said...

We play winter rules and a player in our group roughs up the grass with the back of her hand before placing the ball. Is this allowed? It's a bit like teeing up for each shot. I can't find anything on this in the rules.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The player is definitely breaching Rule 13-2 by improving the lie of where she is going to place her ball under the 'Winter Rule'.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

Just as a follow on to the point in a question above whereby if a ball won't come to rest on the spot on which it was replaced on the green, it may be placed on the nearest spot no nearer the hole that it will come to rest.
Can I ask, what is the fine line between a ball not coming to rest when its replaced (and therefore it being ok to pick up and try again or move to nearest spot etc.), and a ball moving after its replaced to a different spot, where it must now be played from ?
I've probably not explained that very well, but basically is there a split second where the ball must be stationary and then its deemed to be replaced and back in play ?

Thanks a lot !

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I recommend that you don't completely release your grip on the replaced ball but leave your fingers touching it for that split second. If the ball starts to move then lift it and replace it. If there is no movement remove your fingers and the ball is in play.

Barry