THE BALL: GENERAL
Use of Ball Not Conforming with Prescribed Specifications
Q.If a player unwittingly plays one stroke with a ball which does not meet the prescribed specifications, would the Committee be justified, under Rule 33-7, in waiving or modifying the disqualification penalty?
A.No – but see Decision 5-1/3 with regard to a provisional ball.
Status of Ball Not on List of Conforming Golf Balls
Q.In a competition in which the Committee has not adopted the condition of competition requiring players to use a brand and model of ball on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls, a player uses a ball that does not appear on the List. What is the status of such a ball?
A.Balls not appearing on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls fall into three categories:
- Brands and models that have never been tested,
- Brands and models that appeared on a previous List but that have not been re-submitted for inclusion on the current List, and
- Brands and models that have been tested and found not to conform to the Rules and specifications set forth in Appendix III.
Balls in categories 1 and 2 are presumed to conform and the onus of proof is on the person alleging that the ball does not.
All balls in category 3 are deemed to be non-conforming.
Status of Ball to Be Removed from List of Conforming Golf Balls
Q.A brand of ball included on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls is tested again and found not to conform to the specifications in Appendix III. The brand will therefore be deleted from the next List published. What is the status of the ball in the interim period?
A.Players are entitled to assume that all balls of a brand included on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls conform to the Rules. Therefore, players may continue to use balls of the brand in question until the publication of the next List, unless by a condition of the competition the Committee specifically excludes that brand. This applies whether or not it is a condition of the competition that only brands of golf balls on the List of Conforming Golf Balls may be used.
Condition Requiring Use of Ball on List of Conforming Golf Balls; Penalty for Breach
Q.It is a condition of a competition that players must play a brand and model of ball on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls. May the Committee provide that the penalty for breach of the condition is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play for each hole at which a breach occurs rather than disqualification?
Condition Requiring Use of Ball on List of Conforming Golf Balls; Ball Not on List Played as Provisional Ball
Q.It is a condition of the competition that players must play a brand of ball on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls. A player, believing his ball may be lost or out of bounds, plays a provisional ball. He subsequently finds his original ball and then discovers that the ball he played as his provisional ball was not on the List. What is the ruling?
A.The player incurs no penalty as the provisional ball was never the ball in play.
Status of 'X-out,' 'Refurbished' and 'Practice' Balls
Q.What is the status of 'X-out,' 'refurbished' and 'practice' balls?
A.'X-out' is the common name used for a golf ball that a manufacturer considers to be imperfect (usually for aesthetic reasons only, e.g., paint or printing errors) and, therefore, has crossed out the brand name. A 'refurbished' golf ball is a second-hand ball that has been cleaned and stamped as 'refurbished.'
In the absence of strong evidence to suggest that an 'X-out' or 'refurbished' ball does not conform to the Rules, it is permissible for such a ball to be used. However, in a competition where the Committee has adopted the condition that the ball the player plays must be named on the List of Conforming Golf Balls (see Note to Rule 5-1), such a ball may not be used, even if the ball in question (without the X's or without the 'refurbished' stamp) does appear on the List.
In most cases, 'practice' balls are simply listed, conforming golf balls that have been stamped "Practice," in the same way that golf balls often feature a club or company logo. Such balls may be used even where the Committee has adopted the condition that the ball the player plays must be named on the List of Conforming Golf Balls.
Whether Player May Borrow Balls from Another Player
Q.During a stipulated round, a player runs out of balls. May he borrow one or more balls from another player?
A.Yes. Rule 4-4a prohibits a player from borrowing a club from another player playing on the course but the Rules do not prevent a player from borrowing other items of equipment (balls, towels, gloves, tees, etc.) from another player or an outside agency.
If the "One Ball" Condition in Appendix I is in effect, the player would need to obtain the same brand and type of ball as required by that condition.
Other Decisions related to Rule 5-1: See "Ball" in the Index.
BALL UNFIT FOR PLAY
Ball Internally Damaged
Q.A player hit his tee shot and expressed the view that the ball behaved erratically in flight. Before his next shot he examined the ball but he could find no external damage and the ball was not out of shape. He commented that the ball must have been damaged internally by his last stroke and claimed the right to substitute another ball under Rule 5-3. Was the player entitled to invoke Rule 5-3?
Ball Declared Unfit for Play Played at Later Hole
Q.A player damaged his ball at a certain hole, declared it unfit for play and substituted another ball. At a subsequent hole he played the damaged ball. What is the ruling?
A.There is no penalty. However, the player may not again declare the ball (in the same condition) unfit for play.
Ball Not Unfit for Play Deemed Unfit
Q.In stroke play, a competitor, after announcing his intention of doing so, lifted his ball to check for damage, showed it to his marker and claimed that it was unfit for play. The marker disputed this claim, but the competitor insisted on substituting and playing another ball. Before completion of the hole, however, a referee was consulted and ruled that the ball taken out of play by the competitor was not, after all, unfit for play. What is the ruling?
A.The competitor should be penalized two strokes for a breach of Rule 5-3 and must hole out with the substituted ball.
In similar circumstances in match play, the player would lose the hole for a breach of Rule 5-3.
Player Lifts Ball on Putting Green, Throws Ball into Lake and Then Announces That Ball Is Unfit for Play
Q.A player mis-hits his approach shot but the ball comes to rest on the putting green. The player marks the position of his ball, inspects it and throws it into an adjacent lake from which it cannot be retrieved.
The player then announces to his opponent, marker or a fellow-competitor that the ball was unfit for play and that he is substituting another ball. The player did not, as required by Rule 5-3, announce his intention in advance to his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play and give his opponent, marker or fellow-competitor an opportunity to examine the ball.
What is the ruling?
A.The player was entitled under Rule 16-1b to lift his ball without announcing his intentions. However, when he threw the ball into the lake, he deprived his opponent, marker or fellow-competitor of the opportunity to examine the ball and dispute the claim of unfitness, and he made it impossible to replace the original ball should such a dispute be resolved against him. Accordingly, he incurs a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play for a breach of Rule 5-3, but he may substitute another ball to complete the hole.
• 15-2/1 Player Substitutes Another Ball on Putting Green Because Original Ball Thrown to Caddie for Cleaning Came to Rest in Lake.
• 18-2a/13.5 Ball Lifted and Thrown into Pond in Anger.
Ball Breaks into Pieces as a Result of Striking Cart Path
Q.A player makes a stroke and the ball strikes a cart path. As a result of the impact with the cart path, the ball breaks into pieces. Should the ball be considered to have broken into pieces "as a result of a stroke" in which case the player must replay the stroke without penalty under the last paragraph of Rule 5-3?
Ball Embedded in Hazard Lifted to Determine Whether Unfit for Play
Q.Under Rule 5-3, a ball in a hazard may be lifted to determine whether it is unfit for play. If a ball embedded in a hazard is lifted to determine whether it is unfit for play and the lie is altered in the lifting process, does Rule 20-3b apply?
A.Yes, see Note 2 to Rule 5-3.
The same ruling would apply if the lie of a ball in a hazard is altered when the ball is lifted for identification (see the Note to Rule 12-2).
• 20-3b/7 Whether Original Lie May be "Nearest Lie Most Similar."
Ball Thought to Be Unfit for Play Lifted Under Another Rule and Cleaned; Ball Then Determined to Be Unfit for Play
Q.A player believes that his ball may have become unfit for play as a result of his previous stroke, but he is unable to determine whether the ball is unfit due to a large piece of mud adhering to it. He lifts his ball to take relief from an area of ground under repair. He then cleans the ball as permitted under Rule 25-1b and determines that the ball is unfit for play. Is the player subject to penalty under Rule 5-3 which prohibits cleaning the ball?
A.No. The player is entitled to clean the ball as provided in Rule 25-1b.
Ball Thought to Be Unfit for Play; Committee Involvement
Q.A player wishes to lift his ball to determine if it is unfit for play. May a referee or a member of the Committee fulfill the responsibilities of the opponent, marker or fellow-competitor in the relief procedure under Rule 5-3?
The same ruling applies if a player wishes to lift his ball for identification (Rule 12-2) or to determine whether he is entitled to relief under a Rule (see Decision 20-1/0.7).
Opponent or Fellow-Competitor Disputes Player's Claim That Ball Is Unfit for Play
Q.A player considers his ball unfit for play. His opponent or fellow-competitor disagrees. There is no referee available for a ruling. In spite of the opponent's or fellow-competitor's disagreement, may the player substitute another ball?
A.Yes, subject to the following considerations:
In match play, if the opponent then makes a claim (Rule 2-5) and the Committee, after examination of the original ball, upholds the opponent's claim, the player would lose the hole. Otherwise, the result of the hole would stand as played.
In stroke play, the player may also play a second ball in accordance with Rule 3-3.
In either form of play, the player must ensure that the condition of the ball he considered unfit for play is preserved until the Committee examines it. Otherwise, the Committee should rule against the player and in match play the player would lose the hole and in stroke play the player incurs a penalty of two strokes.
Other Decisions related to Rule 5-3: See "Ball Unfit for Play" in the Index.