Rules Guy: What do you do when your match is interrupted and you forget to mark your ball?
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.
During the semifinals of the club match-play championship, I was injured when my opponent drove her golf cart into my left leg, knocking me over — yes, accidentally, but still. This took place during the fourth hole. Not knowing the extent of my injury, we jointly decided to halt the match. Thankfully, it turned out nothing was broken. We neglected, however, to mark our balls. When we eventually restart the match, can we jointly agree to start afresh from the first hole, even though the pin locations and conditions will have changed? Is this a tournament committee decision? — Kathleen Williams, Union Vale, N.Y.
Rules Guy was more intrigued by the prospective match between your respective lawyers, but we are glad you handled the situation peacefully.
That said, under Rule 5.7c, you must resume play from where play was stopped, even on a different day.
Don’t know the exact position of your golf balls? That’s fine — just estimate and replace (and make sure your opponent keeps her foot on the brake).
For more match-play guidance from our guru, read on …
In match play, my shot and my opponent’s land on the green. My opponent concedes my birdie putt, then putts my ball into the hole before attempting his putt to halve. Is this legal? — Bill Dolbow, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Golf, or at least its rules, can be a funny thing: Your opponent’s action is only legal if it wasn’t really putting. If he had merely been attempting to return your ball to you or get the ball out of the way and then the hole simply got in the way, he’s in the clear.
If instead he was performing some kind of trial run for his own putt, maybe hoping to glean information on, say, green speed or the break — i.e., practicing — he violated Rule 5.5(a), with the penalty being loss of hole in match play. Moral of the story: A gentle toss of the ball to your opponent is the safe way to go.
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