(TUCSON, AZ) During a recent Pro Series tournament event for the Southwest Section Southern Chapter PGA at the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort, one of the golf professionals accidentally ran over his golf ball in the cart. What is the ruling?
Without jumping to an immediate conclusion, there are some facts that need to be determined. The first question is always to make sure you know the form of play (Match Play or Stroke Play). Next would be to find out who was involved, where the incident occurred, the player’s intentions and subsequent events that followed.
So we know it was a stroke play event. We found out that the player ran over his ball in his golf cart while the ball was lying through the green. His intentions were to replace the ball as near as possible to its original position. He replaced the ball notifying his marker and reporting it to the committee at the completion of play.
Based on all the facts you can now proceed to figure out what the consequences of his actions were. You’ll discover that under Rule 18-2 “The player or his equipment causes the ball to move it must be replaced and the player incurs a penalty of one stroke under the general rule.”
The Rules of Golf are much easier to understand and navigate through by knowing the definitions. The definition for equipment clearly states that a golf cart, whether or not motorized is the players equipment.
The other concern would be was the player required to place the ball or drop it under the rule. Here are some key words in the rules you need to look carefully for, may-optional, should-recommendation, must-instruction (and penalty if not carried out), a ball-you may substitute another ball (Rules 26, 27 & 28), the ball-you may not substitute another ball (Rules 24-2 and 25-1).
It states clearly that the player must replace the ball under Rule 18-2. He did properly replace the ball, but what if he had dropped the ball? That brings a whole different rule into effect. By dropping instead of placing and then playing the ball without correcting the mistake, Rule 20-6 would apply, “Lifting ball incorrectly substituted, dropped or placed. If a competitor makes a stroke from a wrong place he incurs a penalty of two strokes.”
At the completion of play, the competitor and marker reported the ruling to the committee. After all facts were clear the player received a one stroke penalty under Rule 18-2. So remember always report any rule questions to the committee and if no Rule’s official is available on the course you can always use Rule 3-3 Doubt as to Procedure in stroke play format and play two balls.