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Catching up on Tee Time mail

HAL LENOBEL
Contributing Columnist
golf@lbknews.com

I want to catch up by answering a few questions that were sent to me.

 

After hitting my drive into the rough, I walloped my second shot and lost my ball out of bounds. At least I thought it was my ball. After dropping (taking stroke and distance) and hitting my next shot into the green, I found my real ball just a few yards ahead. I finished out with my original ball, but neither my opponent nor I had any idea how to score the hole. What should I have done?

According to Decision 15/11, the ball you hit out of bounds is still considered a “wrong ball” (and the ball you dropped afterward a “continuation of play” on that wrong ball). If you were scoring in stroke play, you should have taken a two-stroke penalty for your mistake (Rule 15/3a) and continued the hole playing your original ball. If you were scoring in match play, the answer is even simpler: You lost the hole. But look on the bright side — at least you didn’t lose your ball.

 

My temperamental friend took a big hack in a fairway bunker and moved the ball all of about three feet, still in the bunker. Disgusted, he slammed his club into the sand. Looking to kick him when he was down, I informed my buddy that he had to take a penalty for touching the bunker with his club. He claimed that since he had taken a stroke in it, he could no longer “test” the bunker’s condition. Was he right?

Decision 13-4/35 reinforces your argument that your friend’s action was in violation of the rule prohibiting players from touching the bunker with their clubs (Rule 13-4b), even though he had already played a ball in that trap. You should gently tell him that his temper-tantrum cost him two strokes or the loss of the hole in match play. And if he’s got a club in his hand, maybe you should tell him over the phone.

 

While hitting a ball out of a bunker, I hit it a second time with my club on the follow-through. What is the correct ruling?

Rule 14-4 clearly states that in this circumstance, “the player must count the stroke and add a penalty stroke, making two strokes in all.” The good news for you is that there is no additional penalty for being in any particular spot (whether it’s the tee box, green or, in your case, a bunker), so you should have simply counted the two strokes and played your ball where it came to rest after your double hit.

 

I was playing with my father when my ball landed under a small tree. As I took my backswing, my club swung up and snapped a branch behind me. I stopped my swing quickly and assessed the damage. I then took my shot (which I admit was easier without the branch). My dad said I had to take a penalty for improving my lie, but I disagreed, since I broke it during my swing. Who was right?

By stopping your club mid-swing you did not actually make a stroke at the ball. Consequently, according to Decision 13-3/14.5, breaking the branch constituted improving the area of your intended swing, a violation of Rule 13-2 and a two stroke- penalty. If you had completed your swing, breaking the branch should have simply been a result of your stroke and you should not have been penalized.

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