Rules Guy: My ball hit my playing partner and went in the hole. What now?

What do the rules say about a ball hitting your playing partner and going in the hole?

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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.

In a stroke-play outing, my playing partner pitched his third shot on a par 4 from 20 yards away. One guy was already standing on the green, oblivious. Surprise! The pitch was offline but ricocheted off his foot and into the hole. My partner claimed this counted as a birdie. Really? — Paul Butts, Tampa, Fla.

Rules Guy isn’t a basketball aficionado, but we know that in the practice game H-O-R-S-E, one must call bank shots beforehand. In golf, however, per Rule 11.1, a ball played from off the putting green when accidentally deflected is played as it lies without penalty.

Ergo, this offline shot proved spot-on, as the ball was, indeed, holed.

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

Rules Guy: Does an ace still count if it bounces off a flagstick lying on the ground?
By: Rules Guy

A few weeks ago, I hit a perfect slam-dunk shot on a par 3…but our club has placed 2-inch pool noodles in the holes for COVID-19 reasons, and the ball bounced out. Our club pro said it was an ace. The state golf association said it probably was, too, but not having seen it suggested I talk with my fellow players. They all agreed the ball had landed directly in the hole. Do you agree that it was a hole-in-one (with an asterisk)?— Dennis Doherty, Lexington, Ky.

Dennis, there are no pictures on the scorecard, nor asterisks, question marks or parallelograms….The USGA hasn’t changed its guidance in terms of when a ball is considered holed.

It has to be, yes, holed…or with the limited exception of it resting against the flagstick with some portion of the ball below the surface.

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Bad Cards Fore Good Golfers (Vol 1)

Liven up your next round with these fun cards. Each pack includes 52 good and 53 bad directives, as well as two DIY cards.

Otherwise, sorry, you’ve got to play on, noodle or not.

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

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