Rules Guy: What do you do if your ball is deflected by a rogue pushcart?

What do the rules say about interference from a rogue push cart?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

Recently our foursome was challenged by pretty serious winds. My buddy was standing over a 5-foot putt for birdie, which under those conditions required his full attention — so he never noticed the three-wheeled pushcart unmoored by the wind and barreling toward him. As he struck his putt, the cart struck him where no man wants to be hit…while, miraculously, the ball rolled behind the front wheel and between the two rear wheels and into the cup. Question: had a wheel deflected the ball, what then?
—Tim Dugan, Nantucket, Mass.

While motorized golf carts piloted by numbnuts are well known to cause countless injuries per annum, the unpiloted pushcart to the crotch is an underreported vehicular danger.

Regardless, had any of the wheels deflected the ball, it would have been accidentally deflected by a movable obstruction after a stroke from the putting green. Ergo, the stroke would not count, and your buddy would have to putt the ball again from the previous spot per Exception 2 to Rule 11.1b…right after he recovered his own wind.

players in golf cart
Rules Guy: Is it legal to accept a cart ride to a tee during a tournament?
By: Rules Guy

For more cart-related guidance from our guru, read on …

Player A hit his drive into the rough. After the allotted three minutes of looking, we considered the ball lost, but when Player B moved his cart the ball was in plain sight. We felt it was only fair to let Player A proceed without penalty, but I’m sure we violated a rule. Which one? —Ron Crosser, via email

Dare I say, there’s no carte blanche for a cart block.

As for fair, that’s a four-letter word, as is lost, which is what the ball in fact is, since it wasn’t found in time. The player must play under stroke-and-distance…unless (a) you were playing match play and (b) nobody was sure how correctly to proceed under the rules (which, oddly enough, “I’m sure we violated a rule” suggests… arguably). In that instance, a + b = you can decide amongst yourselves how to handle the situation, even if that procedure turns out to be as wrong as playing in flip-flops.

This doesn’t hold for stroke play, since the field must be protected, and what’s verboten in both match play and stroke play is for players to agree to waive a Rule of Golf, under penalty of disqualification. Ignorance isn’t quite bliss, but it beats collusion 9 and 8.

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Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to rulesguy@golf.com. We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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