MODERNIZING GOLF'S RULES
Proposed Change: Ball Moved During Search
March 1, 2017
Proposed Rule: Under new Rule 7.4, if a player accidentally moves his or her ball while searching for it:
The player would get no penalty for causing it to move, and the ball would always be replaced; if the exact spot is not known, the player would replace the ball on the estimated original spot (including on, under or against any attached natural objects that the ball had been at rest under or against).
Reasons for Change:
A fundamental principle of golf is to play the ball as it lies; so the Rules should help the player to find his or her ball and play it from the spot where it was at rest.
Players often need to probe in grass, bushes, leaves and other conditions to look for a hidden ball, and such reasonable acts create an inherent risk of moving the ball.
The current Rules allow both an opponent in match play and other players in stroke play to help search for the player’s ball without risk of penalty if they accidentally move the player’s ball; outside persons such as spectators are allowed to help search as well.
It is inconsistent to encourage everyone but the player or his or her caddie (or partner) to look for the ball, and this creates an odd incentive for the player to hold back and let others search.