Many golfers don’t correctly apply Rule 18

2011-06-09 00:00

IN a competition a few weeks ago a player was in the middle of the fairway, addressed the ball, made his backswing and the ball moved. It was too late, he couldn’t stop — the club struck the ball and sent it towards the green. The player, not sure of the rule, dropped and played another ball, which is always wise to do when there is uncertainty.

He later referred to the rule book under Rule 14-5 (page 75) which states that a player must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving. However, there are exceptions and one of them is just the occurrence as described here.

The player wasn’t able to stop his swing, so in this instance there is no penalty under this rule for playing a moving ball. But read on. The player is not exempt from a penalty because the ball was deemed to have moved from its position.

Unfortunately, his first ball counted and he had to add one penalty stroke to his score on that hole.

What about if he had stopped his backswing and he didn’t hit the ball? Well, Rule 18 is very clear. The ball must be marked and must be replaced to its original position under a penalty of one stroke.

The rule book states that a ball is deemed to have moved if it moves from its position and comes to rest in any other place.

So the ball has moved if it finishes forwards, backwards, sideways or up or down from its position.

It is not likely to finish up, but it could very well finish down, as when the ball goes into long rough and the player’s movement causes the ball to drop from its suspended position in the grass.

Rule 18 also deals with hitting a moving ball and many golfers don’t apply it correctly. The ball moving at address is one of the pitfalls of placing the ball, especially in winter with the golfer looking for the greenest, juicy piece of grass on the fairway.

Incidentally, Jack Nicklaus wisely never grounded his club so technically and according to the rules, he never addressed the ball.

Last weekend’s results:

Victoria Country Club held the Old Mutual Monthly Mug on Saturday.

A division:

1. S. Davidson 67 net

2. P. Dewes 72 net

B division:

1. K. Perumal 71 net

2. T. Ackerman 71 net

C division:

1. B. Meredith 73 net

2. R. Naidoo 74 net

Maritzburg Golf Club held the Bedstore Monthly Mug on Saturday coupled­ with the Sweeney Cup.

A division:

1. J. Buchanan 70 net

2. D. Trodd 71 net

B division:

K. Pretorius 66 net

G. McKenzie 68 net

C division:

1. S. Carruthers 66 net

2. R. Goodayle 69 net


1. A. Toth net 72 net

2. E. Fortmann 74 net

Sweeney Cup winner: S. Carruthers

From the 19th hole:

The golf fanatic’s top movies:

Swinging in the Rain

Raiders of the Lost Ball

Lord of the Pings

Perfect Ace Ventura

Glove Story

Good Ball Hunting

Dead Putts Society

Raging Pull

Four Wedges and a Funeral

The Hunchbackswing of Notre Dame

True Grip

Harry Putter

Where Eagles Dare

The Wood, the Bag and the Ugly.

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