FALL 2017

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W hen you read through the Rules of Golf, you notice that important statements are repeated. Statements like: "The substituted ball becomes the ball in play," or "If a ball to be replaced under this Rule is not immediately recoverable, another ball may be substituted." One statement that gets overlooked is actually an entire Rule – Rule 6-5: "The respon- sibility for playing the proper ball rests with the player. Each player should put an identification mark on his ball." The phrase shows up again in Rule 12-2 (Lifting Ball for Identification). The phrase is overlooked because there is no direct penalty for failing to put an identification mark on a golf ball. In fact, there are many golfers who go through entire rounds with a ball identified only by make, model and number (i.e., Titleist, Pro V1, No. 2), and never have any issues with identification. But the statement is repeated in the Rules of Golf because failing to put an identification mark on your ball could lead to some significant penalties. Here are a couple of situations we've encountered and could happen to you if you don't put an identification mark (or many) on your golf ball: Playing a Wrong Ball The most common violation that could arise if you fail to put a mark on your ball is playing a wrong ball. If you look down and see a TaylorMade 2 with no visible markings and play it, you're taking a chance. If you play that ball and then arrive at the green only to see that someone else had put a red line on it—you've played a wrong ball. The penalty for playing a wrong ball is loss of hole in match play, or two strokes in stroke play, and you must correct the mistake by finding and playing the correct ball prior to playing from the next teeing ground. So if you fail to notice that the TaylorMade 2 is not your ball and play from the next teeing ground, you're subject to disqualification. Ouch. If You're Not Sure If you come upon a ball that might be yours but you are not sure, there is a Rule to help you so that you can identify it. Since 2008, Rule 12-2 gives the player the right to use the procedure for identification anywhere on the golf course, even in a water hazard. The player must announce the intention to lift the ball, mark its position and provide the marker, fellow-competitor or opponent an opportunity to observe the lifting and replacement. If it is the player's ball, then the ball must be replaced. If it is not the player's ball, then the player may add it to the golf bag for use later (provided it doesn't belong to someone else on the course). Close Call at Pacific Coast Amateur – Original and Provisional Nearly Identical I was working the eighth hole at Chambers Bay during this year's Pacific Coast Amateur Championship and I noticed a player hit his first drive left. I never saw it land, but had a decent eye on it until about 10 yards before it hit the ground. He played a provisional that flew on virtually the same line, but this time I was able to see where it landed. I found the ball fairly quickly, but within a yard of it was a ball of the exact same brand and number. I was unable to see any markings on either ball except for the brand and number. After four hours of boredom, the Rules Official's 30 seconds of terror began as I tried to remember the Decision regarding a player who cannot differentiate between the original and the provisional ball (it's Decision 27/11). Situation 4 from the Decision would apply and the player would have to select one of the balls and treat it as his provisional if he did not mark one of the balls differently. Fortunately, when the player arrived I asked him if he had a marking on his original (or provisional) and he said he had a black line on the original. Using the procedure in Rule 12-2, he announced, marked and lifted one of the two and it did have a faint black line. It was evidence enough to proceed with it as the original, but he was only a faint black line away from having to incur a stroke-and-distance penalty. Ryan Farb is the NCGA's Director of Rules and Competitions. This year he earned his second straight perfect 100 score on the PGA/USGA Rules exam. Are You Sure That's YOUR Ball? BY RYAN FARB R U L E S O F G O L F NCGA.ORG | FALL 2017 67

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