Summer 2017

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P layers are so used to simply picking a ball out of the bag, plopping it on the tee and chasing it into the hole that we frequently overlook several Rules and Conditions of Competition regarding the golf ball. For basics on Rules relating to the Ball, Rule 5 (The Ball) has three main subsec- tions for golfers to abide by: The ball the player plays has to be conforming (5-1); the ball the player plays must not have foreign material applied to it in order to change its playing characteristics (5-2); and what is an unfit ball and what to do if the ball may have become unfit (5-3). In the Appendix, there are also some optional Conditions of Competition that directly impact what ball a player may use during a competition. During the California Senior Women's Amateur Championship at Quail Lodge earlier this year, a harmless prank turned into an unfortunate disqual- ification because of one of those Conditions of Com- petition and some bad timing. A player reached into her bag to drop under Rule 26-1 for relief from a water hazard. She grabbed the first ball she could, dropped it within two club- lengths of her reference point and kaboom! The ball–which had been placed in her bag at some earlier time, likely by a friend meaning to get a good laugh– happened to be an exploding golf ball that burst into dust when she struck it. Without any Local Rules or Conditions in effect the golf ball just needs to be con- forming, in general that means no smaller than 1.68 inches and no heavier than 1.62 ounces. If such a ball were to break into pieces (or explode into dust), Rule 5-3 requires the player to cancel and replay the stroke without penalty. However, there is a Condition of Competition that many associations use, which requires the ball a player plays to be on the List of Conforming Golf Balls. This list is updated frequently, but needless to say, the joke exploding golf ball is not on that list. This Condition was in effect for the CWAC Senior and the player was disqualified for a breach of that Condition. (Note: The NCGA does not use this Condition for its Championships). Another Condition of Competition that players frequently run into is the so-called "One Ball Rule." Many confuse this to mean that the player is required to play the same exact ball throughout the entire round. What the Condition really says, is that the player must play the same type of ball (same brand and model, defined as one single entry on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls). The penalty is not immediate disqualification, however. The player may correct this mistake incurring either an adjustment to the state of the match by maximum of two holes in match play, or a two stroke penalty per hole with maximum of four strokes for each hole the player was in breach of the Condition. If the player fails to discontinue using the wrong kind of ball prior to the next hole after the breach is discovered, then the player would be disqualified. The "One Ball Rule" made a few waves in the recent past, first in the 2015 U.S. Senior Open when Hale Irwin accidentally used the wrong type of ball after dropping for relief from a water hazard and then later that year in the Presidents Cup when Phil Mickelson switched to an incorrect type of ball dur- ing Foursomes play. The USGA uses this Condition in all of its qualifying and competitions and the NCAA uses this condition in its competitions as well. (Note: The NCGA does not use this Condition for its Championships). Ryan Farb is the NCGA's Director of Rules and Competitions. He recently earned his second straight perfect 100 score on the PGA/USGA Rules exam. NCGA.ORG | SUMMER 2017 67 So About That Ball … B Y RYAN FARB R U L E S O F G O L F

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