Rules Guy: If I drop but then find my ball under the cart, am I still penalized?

A man looks for his golf ball under a cart.

Good news! You found your golf ball. But is it too late?

Getty Images

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 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.

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.

Exit mobile version