I have received these two photos so many times now that I thought I should offer this ruling on them. Neither ball is holed, as part of each ball remains above the level of the lip of the hole. Definition of Hole;
A ball is "holed" when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip of the hole.The player must mark and lift their ball and, in the unlikely event that a member of the Committee is on hand, request that the hole (and in the right hand photo, the hole liner) is repaired. Otherwise, the player may repair the damage as best they can, without penalty. The ball must then be replaced on the lip and putted out. Decision 16-1a/6 clarifies the procedure for a player when a hole is damaged.
Q. Prior to putting, a player discovers that the hole has been damaged. What is the proper procedure?Incidentally, the speed at which the ball must have been travelling to make the damage shown in the right-hand photo, leads me to the conclusion that there is no way that it would have finished at rest in the hole. This assumes that the photo is genuine; it has been doing the rounds and I suspect that the situation may have been manufactured to give us Rules experts something to talk about!
A. If the damage is not clearly identifiable as a ball mark, then:
(a) If the damage is such that the proper dimensions of the hole have not been changed materially, the player should continue play without repairing the hole. If he touches the hole in such circumstances, a breach of Rule 16-1a occurs.
(b) If the proper dimensions of the hole have been changed materially, the player should request the Committee to have the hole repaired. If a member of the Committee is not readily available, the player may repair the damage, without penalty.
If a player repairs a materially damaged hole when a member of the Committee is readily available, he incurs a penalty for a breach of Rule 16-1a.
My attention was drawn to an incident concerning Zach Johnson at the Hero World Challenge in in Nassau, Bahamas last Thursday. His approach at the 18th hole missed the green, leaving him with an up-slope chip shot. As he considered how to play the chip he rubbed the grass near his ball, to get a sense of the grain in the grass. He was certainly testing the surface, but this action does not incur a penalty anywhere other than on putting greens (Rule 16-1d), or hazards (Rule 13-4). Part of Rule 16-1d states;
During the stipulated round, a player must not test the surface of any putting green by rolling a ball or roughening or scraping the surface.Johnson’s comments after the round were interesting;
Exception: Between the play of two holes, a player may test the surface of any practice putting green and the putting green of the hole last played, unless the Committee has prohibited such action (see Note 2 to Rule 7-2).
“I get called on that at least two or three times a year from television. The problem is the camera, the angle where it is, I can't go in front of my ball and test the surface in my line, but I was about a yard, yard and a half to the left and behind.”He is correct, a player may do nothing in front of their ball that may be construed as changing their line of play for the better, potentially giving them an advantage, Rule 13-2 and Decision 13-2/0.5.
2016 Updates to my eBook and eDocuments
I have almost finished updating my eBook and eDocuments with the amendments to the Rules and Decisions that are effective from 1st January, 2016. Anyone who has purchased from me since 1st April will automatically get the updated files sent to them, free of charge. The .mobi file for the '999 Questions' eBook (for eReaders, smart phones and tablets) may take a little longer, as I am dependent on an outside service for this. As soon as I do have it, I will update the file at Amazon for those of you that prefer a paperback version. Please watch my blog site for details.
I am also close to releasing my follow-up eBook, ‘999 More Questions on the Rules of Golf’. This is a collection of all 111 issues of ‘9 Questions About …’, my current weekly email ‘Rhodes Rules School’ series. For those of you that are not familiar with these series they are;
1st series of 99 issues: 'Photo series' (click here to purchase)
2nd series of 99 issues: 'How Many Strokes?' (click here to purchase)
3rd series of 111 issues: '9 Questions About …' (watch this space!)
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