Rules Guy: On a par 3, my partner’s shot knocked my ball into the hole! Is it an ace?

What do the rules say about a ball that goes in the hole after being bounced by another ball?

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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.

While playing a par 3, the first player’s ball stopped about a foot from the hole. The third player’s shot from the tee hit the first ball into the hole. Not sure what the call is. Two good shots, by the way! —Ken Skolny, via email

Those are some fine players you’re surrounding yourself with, Ken. But what happened with the second player’s shot? Was it yours? Ace, or duck-hook out-of-bounds? Inquiring minds want to know!

Regardless, the first ball is replaced back to where it was and the other ball is played as it lies — with no penalty to either, obviously — under Rules 9.6 and 11.1. Keep hanging out with such super sticks, as it may rub off on you!

For more partner ball guidance from our guru, read on …

If a handkerchief is considered an “artificial object” as it relates to gauging wind, what about cigar smoke? I often play with one or more smokers, and cigar smoke is a perfect indicator of wind direction and velocity. Does observing this smoke result in a penalty for the observer? — Richard Ellis, Roswell, Ga.

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Rules Guy: In a four-ball match, do you have to share a wrong-ball penalty with your partner?
By: Rules Guy

First off: Kids, don’t smoke — and don’t break the Rules of Golf.

Just as having a handkerchief on the course itself isn’t a breach but using it as a quasi-wind sock is, the same is true with cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc. Smoking is a health issue but not a rules issue — generally.

However, because cigars et al. are artificial objects, per Rule 4.3a(2) using any of these things for the specific purpose of gauging wind-related information would be an issue.

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So, Richard, a smoker — let’s call him Stan — breaching this rule would get the general penalty of two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play for the first offense and disqualified upon a second offense.

Assuming you didn’t ask Stan to blow smoke in order to pick up its signals, you’re in the clear — save for the dangers of secondhand smoke.

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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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