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The Ball

Article 22 of 31 about the 2019-Rules of Golf draft:

“The Ball”

This is part 22 (of 31) in a series of blogs about some of the proposed changes to the
Rules of Golf effective as of January 1st 2019. Focusing on the ball and all the rules involving this important object.


There are many changes in the Rules about the ball.

22.1 Ball moved during search.

Under Rule 18-2 in the current Rules of Golf, you incur a one stroke penalty, if you move
your ball during search for it. Under the proposed 2019-Rules of Golf this will be changed;
You will no longer incur a penalty.
The ball must be replaced under both the current Rules and the 2019-Rules.

22.2 Has the ball moved?

a) The current Rules:

The ball has moved, if it leaves its position and comes to rest in a new position. Therefore
it is of no importance whether or not the player knew, that it actually moved. There have
been a few modifications to this starting point, though, the last year or so, which e.g.
states, that the ball is deemed not to have moved, if it moves so little that it is not visible
to the naked eye.

b) The 2019-Rules:

In the proposed 2019-Rules of Golf, the ball is deemed to have moved, if it is known or
virtually certain – i.e. if it is at least 95 % certain – that it has. This percentage has
specifically been mentioned! In real life it is of course impossible to put up such a
percentage, but for pedagogical reasons I think it is great!

22.3 Who/what caused the ball to move?

Under the current Rules of Golf a player is deemed to have moved his ball, if it is more
likely than not (i.e. more than 50 % certain) that he has moved it.

This is the Rule that caused Dustin Johnson to be penalized in US Masters a few years
ago in a situation, where his ball on the putting green moved a few seconds after he had
grounded the putter right next to the ball. It was deemed more likely than not, that his
action had caused the ball to move – and he thereby incurred a one stroke penalty, and
should replace the ball. That caused many discussions about the fairness of the Rules!
Under the proposed new 2019-Rules of Golf, the problem is not whether or not there is
penalty (there is no penalty), but rather whether the ball must be replaced or played as it

– If it e.g. is the player or marker, who caused it to move, it must be replaced

– If the movement is caused by the weather/wind it must be played as it lies. The wind/
weather is deemed to have moved the ball, unless it is known or virtually certain, that it
e.g. is moved by the player/a spectator etc.

In other words: Under the proposed new 2019-Rules of Golf you will more often than now
have to play the ball, as it lies (rather than replacing it).

22.4 The place, where your ball is to be replaced, is unknown.

If you are to replace a ball, but do not know exactly, where it lay (e.g. because another
player played it or because a dog took it) the current Rules of Golf states, that you have to
drop a ball at the spot, where you estimate it lay.

Under the proposed 2019-Rules of Golf the same applies… except that you have to place

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This post was written by The Oswald Academy.

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