What To Do When This Happens

Seagull or pesky golf ball thief? It depends on who you ask.
Seagull or golf ball predator? It depends on who you ask. There’s a Rule for that.

A few months ago, a cell phone video of a bear cub dancing with a pin flag on a golf course in Canada starting making the rounds on YouTube. Actually, it got more than 2.5 million views! It may be the greatest thing Canada has ever produced, and I’m including the sport of hockey. One of the things we all love about playing golf is that it puts us out in nature in some of the most beautiful parts of the world.

But what happens when golf and nature collide? It does happen. Here in Arizona, coyotes have been known to dart across the fairway, scoop up a golf ball, and disappear. Now what do you do? It’s also happened on the PGA Tour, probably most notably to Brad Fabel (not Steve Lowery) at the 1998 Players Championship. That’s when a pesky seagull picked-up Fabel’s ball from the 17th green and attempted to fly off with it before dropping it into the water adjacent to the famous island green.

Leave it to golf to have a Rule for such an occasion. Rule 18-1 is Ball at Rest Moved By Outside Agency. The Rule says there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced. But beware the Note:

It is a question of fact whether a ball has been moved by an outside agency. In order to apply this Rule, it must be known or virtually certain that an outside agency has moved the ball. In the absence of such knowledge or certainty, the player must play the ball as it lies or, if the ball is not found, proceed under Rule 27-1 (Ball Lost or Out of Bounds).


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