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Rules Guy: What do you do when several balls deflect off each other?

January 14, 2020

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.

Player A’s ball was on the green. Player B chipped his ball on, but before it came to rest Player C chipped his ball, which struck Player A’s ball, causing it to shoot off and deflect Player’s B ball while it was still in motion. Player B argued that Player A’s ball should be placed as close as possible to its original posi­tion, his own ball as close as possible to where it was when the collision occurred, and Player C should be required to replay his shot. Player C disagrees. What’s the official ruling? —THOMAS ARNTZ, VIA E-MAIL

Ah, golf, the haute version of demolition derby. B is half-right, in that A’s ball, since it was at rest, is put back as near as possible to its original position, under Rule 9.6. But both B and C play their own balls as they lie, per Rule 11.1b, since these were accidental deflections and the strokes were made from off the putting green. To preempt a pos­sible concern, no, whether B and C played in the correct order doesn’t change the ruling — and they both get an F for not paying attention to their playing partners.

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