Rule 7 - Ball Search: Finding and Identifying Ball

Purpose of Rule: Rule 7 allows the player to take reasonable actions to fairly search for his or her ball in play after each stroke.

7.1  How to Fairly Search for Ball

a. Player May Take Reasonable Actions to Find and Identify Ball

A player is responsible for finding his or her ball in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole: after each strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball..

The player may fairly search for the ball by taking reasonable actions to find and identify it, such as:

If taking such reasonable actions as part of a fair search improves: the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball.:

In trying to find and identify the ball, the player may remove loose impedimentsLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as: as allowed in Rule 15.1 and may remove movable obstructionsMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course. as allowed in Rule 15.2.

b. What to Do If Sand Affecting Lie of Player’s Ball Is Moved While Trying to Find or Identify It

7.2  How to Identify Ball

A player’s ball at rest may be identified in any one of these ways:

If a player’s provisional ballProvisional Ball: Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be: cannot be distinguished from his or her original ball, see Rule 18.3c(2).

7.3  Lifting Ball to Identify It

If a ball might be a player’s ball but cannot be identified as it lies:

If the lifted ball is the player’s ball or another player’s ball, it must be replacedReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. on its original spot (see Rule 14.2).

If the player lifts his or her ball under this Rule when not reasonably necessary to identify it (except on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that: where the player may lift under Rule 13.1b), fails to markMark: To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either: the spot of the ball before lifting it or cleans it when not allowed, the player gets one penalty stroke.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly SubstitutedSubstitute: To change the ball the player is using to play a hole by having another ball become the ball in play. Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where the player is required or allowed to play his or her ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 7.3: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a.

If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).

7.4  Ball Accidentally Moved in Trying to Find or Identify It

There is no penalty if the player’s ball is accidentally movedMoved: When a ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so). by the player, opponentOpponent: The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. or anyone else while trying to find or identify it.

If this happens, the ball must be replacedReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2). In doing so:

See also Rule 15.1a (restriction on deliberately removing certain loose impedimentsLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as: before replacingReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. ball).

Penalty for Breach of Rule 7.4: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..