Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Leaf in Motion Blows Putted Ball off Course


A comment made recently, during a televised US golf tournament, has stimulated a discussion on the Rules that I think readers may find interesting. The commentator suggested that if a leaf that is blown by the wind across a putting green, deflects a ball in motion that was putted from the putting green, the stroke must be cancelled and taken again. Many viewers thought that this cannot be correct; that the deflection of the ball was a ‘rub of the green’ and the ball must be played from where it came to rest.

For once (!) the TV commentator was right. The relevant Rule is 19-1b;

If a player’s ball in motion after a stroke on the putting green is deflected or stopped by, or comes to rest in or on, any moving or animate outside agency, except a worm, insect or the like, the stroke is cancelled. The ball must be replaced and replayed.
On being pointed to this Rule, readers may think that it does not apply, because a leaf is a loose impediment and not an outside agency. However, there are many situations where an item or person may have more than one status under the Rules. A leaf blown by the wind it is obviously still a loose impediment but it can also be a moving outside agency. Decision 18-1/6 is relevant, but note that in this case it deals with a ball at rest that is moved;
Q. A tumbleweed blowing across the course strikes a ball at rest and knocks it into the hole. What is the procedure?
A. In the circumstances, a tumbleweed is an outside agency. Rule 18-1 applies and the ball must be replaced without penalty.
I hope that the above is clear. The stroke may only be cancelled in the unlikely event that a ball in motion from a stroke on the putting green is deflected, i.e. moved from the direction that it was rolling, by a leaf that is also in motion. It does not give licence to players who miss putts in autumnal conditions to claim that their ball was diverted by a leaf, or anything else at rest on the putting green.

Good golfing,


 


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14 comments:

Brian Reiersen said...

I was putting on the 2nd green in the senior match play final (which i lost one down). A stray drive from the 8th tee deflected my putted birdie ball ( Which was either going in or very close) and it was knocked sideways about 4 feet away.
My opponent offered for me to have the putt again but I said No it was rub of the green... I missed the putt and lost the hole to a par.

I was wrong of course it is one of the only instances when a shot may be replayed with out penalty

Brian New Zealand

Barry Rhodes said...

Brian,

Correct. Rule 19-5b is the reference.

Barry

Unknown said...

It appears that you do not have a choice to replay the shot, it is a penalty if not replayed from its original spot, and usually in match play loss off hole.
Please advise if I am wrong.

Barry Rhodes said...

Unknown,

You are correct. As stated in the blog above, " the stroke is cancelled. The ball must be replaced and replayed", Rule 19-1b.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Came to check your site after seeing the Southgate leaf incident.
Must admit I always interpreted the "animate" adjective as indicating the outside agency needed to be alive eg a bird, lizard, kangaroo etc also given the exceptions mentioned which are indeed alive.
So, I have learnt something today.
rgds
Ian

Barry Rhodes said...

Ian,

It is one of those Rules incidents that you think could never happen, but then it does!.

Barry

Unknown said...

Our 6th hole would take two days to play at the moment if we applied this rule to the letter. It should be optional.

Barry Rhodes said...

Unknown,

I'll take your word for it, but you may be misunderstanding the Rule, which only applies when a leaf that has been blown by the wind, physically alters the direction of a ball in motion. I play most of my golf in wet, windy and leafy Ireland and I have never witnessed this happening.

Barry

Andy Eastham said...

Hi Barry,

My point is that the green is covered in leaves and all of them are moving in the wind to some extent (at least as much as would show up on HD TV). The rule says "is deflected by" and "any moving". Every contact with a leaf deflects the ball to some extent. Therefore it is impossible to put without this rule coming into effect. Therefore it is is an ass.

Barry Rhodes said...

Andy,

It is not relevant that "every contact with a leaf deflects the ball to some extent." Rule 19-1b only applies when a leaf, or any other moving or animate outside agency, moves a ball that is in motion away from the path on which it is travelling. I am no physicist, but I am confident that the number of times a leaf weighing say, .01 gram, will be blown with sufficient force to move a ball in motion weighing 45.93 grams is not something that you need to worry about. So, the Rule is not "an ass"!

Barry

Andy Eastham said...

Hi Barry, I have to disagree. If a ball even hits a stationary leaf its usually deflected. Why else would we try to move leaves off our line of putt? In the video of this incident a very small leaf blown a few feet deflects the ball so it comes to rest about 15cm from where it would have done. Any impact with a leaf definitely deflects the ball, as any physicist will tell you. The only argument is whether or not the leaf was moving or stationary when the impact occurs. Additionally, surely, when a ball is hit into the trees, it frequently hits a leaf that has been knocked off. Are we going to see people arguing that it was deflected by a moving leaf so they should be able to replay their shot? The leaf should just keep its status as a loose impediment.

Barry Rhodes said...

Andy,

You say, "If a ball even hits a stationary leaf its usually deflected." Perhaps occasionally, but this is not relevant to Rule 19-1b.

You say, "Any impact with a leaf definitely deflects the ball, as any physicist will tell you." Again, this is not relevant to Rule 19-1b.

You say, " The only argument is whether or not the leaf was moving or stationary when the impact occurs." No this is not the argument and is also not relevant to Rule 19-1b.

The important point that you continue to misunderstand in the circumstance of the Southgate incident is that Rule 19-1b only applies because a leaf in motion caused a ball that was also in motion to visually move off the path it was on. This does not happen very often. To my knowledge it has only occurred twice in tournament play.

I will not be continuing this fruitless dialogue.

Barry




Jay Hansom said...

I am trying to figure out when/if the language in 19-1b or other Rules/Decisions changed. I have played/watched golf for 60 years, and for most of those years I am certain that a moving leaf/seed pod that hits a putt in motion was considered "Rub of the Green". Specifically, on Number 2 at the Masters some years age, Mickelson hit an Eagle putt that was struck by a falling seed pod (we call them helicopters at my club" and his ball changed course. I am certain that everyone, including the commentators, sighed over his bad luck as he tapped in for birdie...no cancelled shot...no penalty. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks...Jay Hansom

Barry Rhodes said...

Jay,

I can tell you that the relevant wording in Rule 19-1b has not changed for at least 20 years. If a ball is deflected by any moving outside agency (except a worm, insect or the like) the stroke is cancelled.

My understanding of the Mickelson incident in the 2010 Masters is that the pod fell on the green after his ball had been putted, and his ball was then deflected by the stationary pod. This is a rub of the green and the stroke counts.

Barry