Rules Scenarios From a USGA Rules Official

Dr. Robin Farran is one of the country's foremost USGA Rules officials.
Dr. Robin Farran is one of the country’s foremost USGA Rules officials.

You could argue that Dr. Robin Farran is one of the most sought after USGA Rules Officials in the country. He’s one of the guys who helps write and edit the Rules! It just so happens that he also teaches Advanced Rules of Golf at the Golf Academy of America Phoenix.

Dr. Farran has missed most of this semester while recovering from an illness, but that didn’t stop him from guest speaking in our Advanced Rules class the last couple of weeks and sharing a few stories.

I asked Dr. Farran to add me to his email list because he regularly sends out email blasts to followers nationwide, and I received his first email this morning. These are the kinds of emails that make Dr. Farran so highly regarded.

He officiates so many tournaments and experiences so many Rules situations first hand, it’s impossible for him not to share these stories from the field:

A Difficult Day! – November 12, 2015 – The Rulings
Scenario 1
Player D’s tee shot heads to the right side of the fairway near a cart path and vegetation. Player D sees a ball on the cart path, believes it is his ball, and proceeds under Rule 24-2.

When Player D reaches the putting green, he realizes that the ball he had lifted from the cart path was not his ball. Player D returns to the area where he believed his ball to be, finds his original ball, and completes the hole in four additional strokes.

At scoring, Player D explains that he had played a wrong ball but had corrected his error. Player D requested assistance in determining his score for the hole.

Player D was disqualified for playing a wrong ball and not correcting because two separate events occurred:
a. The dropped ball was a substituted ball and became Player D’s ball in play when dropped. When Player D played a stroke at the dropped ball, the original ball was lost (forever!). Since Player D dropped and played a ball without finding his original ball, the Rules deem that Player D proceeded under penalty of stroke and distance, playing from a wrong place, a serious breach, and was required to replay from the teeing ground.

b. But Player D completed the hole with a wrong ball, his original ball that became a wrong ball when Player D played a stroke at a substituted ball. See Definition of Lost Ball, Rule 20-4, and Decisions 27-1/3 and 34-3/6.

Scenario 2
Player DD’s original ball was not found within the five-minute search time. Player DD returned to the teeing ground and played a second ball and then a provisional ball. Player DD did not know where either of the two balls had landed.

A nearby Rules Official saw a ball on the other side of the fairway and identified the ball as a TaylorMade 3. Player DD identified the ball as his provisional ball and played the ball.

Several minutes later, Player DD waved the official over to inform him that the TaylorMade 3 was not his ball. After search time had expired, Player DD returned to the tee, hit his tee shot into the water hazard, again replayed from the tee and the ball landed in the fairway. Player DD completed the hole from the fairway in four additional strokes. Player DD requested assistance in determining his score for the hole.

Player DD scored a 15 on the hole. Player DD played from the teeing ground five times before having a ball in play that was found and identified. At that point, Player DD lay nine. Adding four strokes to complete the hole and two strokes for play of a wrong ball. His score for the hole is 15.

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