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Marking the ball on the putting green

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Marking the ball on the putting green

Postby DC » Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:47 am

R20-1 says in part:

Note: The position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball. If the ball-marker interferes with the play, stance or stroke of another player, it should be placed one or more clubhead-lengths to one side.

1. With respect to the last sentence of the note, is it acceptable for a player to mark his ball one or more clubhead-lengths to one side in the absence of interference with the play, stance or stroke of another player?

2. When marking two or more clubhead-lengths to one side, should a marker be placed temporarily for each one length measurement of the club head? In other words, assume clubhead is 4 inches long. Measure 4 inches, then place a marker before lifting the club and measuring another 4 inches?
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Postby Doug » Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:52 am

IMO providing it can be shown that the ball can be replaces exactly on its original spot then anything goes. The rule is pretty unconstrained.
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Method used to mark position of ball

Postby Johanna » Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:09 am

Per 1-1-2008 Decision 20-1/16 has been revised. The last paragraph of the R&A Decision Book now says that the player may measure from the SIDE of the ball when the ball or ball-marker interferes with another player's stance or stroke.
The USGA Decision Book did have this clause in previous editions in a chapter called "Decisions Applicable only in the United States of America".
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Postby DC » Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:16 am

thanks for the quick replies. What I particularly wanted to know was may the player mark his ball to the side in the absence of interference with the play, stance or stroke of another player? Doug seems to be saying it is OK. Johanna, I'm not sure what you think.
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Marking to the side of the ball

Postby Johanna » Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:39 am

David,

I don't think it is OK to mark to ball one or more clubheads sideways if there is no need to. The note under Rule 20-1, last sentence, says: "If the ball-marker interferes with the play, stance or stroke of another player, it should be placed one or more clubhead-lengths to one side."

I take that to mean that you may only do so if there IS interference.
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Postby DC » Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:55 am

Johanna

I agree that is what the wording implies. So do you think that a penalty should apply if the player takes it upon himself to unnecessarily mark to the side? If so, then what is the penalty - 2SP?
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Postby Johanna » Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:09 am

David,

To be honest I never thought about it, but reading Rule 20-1 more carefully, it seems that the player incurs 1 penalty stroke under R.20-1 or R.18-2a.
I've never come across it, that a player marked his ball sideways without asking his FC or opponent if it interfered with his line of putt, but there is always a first time.
Just above the exception under R.20-1 is the sentence: "Otherwise, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke etc."
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Postby Ron » Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:51 am

Good morning Johanna,

I do not quite read it that way.

My undertstanding of R20-1 from the passage above the exception you cited, re 1stroke penalty, refers to the ball or ball marker being moved, and should be replaced. However, no penalty is incurred if it moved as a direct result of marking etc.

The decision, 20-1/16, you also cited earlier, in part states,... "there is no penalty for failing to act in accordance with the note".

Appreciate your comments.

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Postby Doug » Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:16 pm

The position of the ball must be marked before it is lifted under a Rule that requires it to be replaced. If it is not marked, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced.
If it is not replaced, the player incurs the general penalty for breach of this Rule, but there is no additional penalty under Rule 20-1.


I see nothing about how or where the mark must be placed.

Note: The position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball.

I see no appearance of the word must nor any associated penalty statement and as Ron says the decision says there isn't one.

The only penalty is for not replacing it (accurately).

That of course is the object of the excercise.
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Postby Johanna » Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:17 pm

Hi Ron,
I've added my comments in bold print.

Ron wrote:My undertstanding of R20-1 from the passage above the exception you cited, re 1stroke penalty, refers to the ball or ball marker being moved, and should be replaced. However, no penalty is incurred if it moved as a direct result of marking etc.
I see it more like somebody with a shaky hand or arm moving the ball involuntarily during marking who doesn't incur a penalty.

The decision, 20-1/16, you also cited earlier, in part states,... "there is no penalty for failing to act in accordance with the note".
The note makes suggestions how a ball may be marked, but you don't get penalised if you mark the ball in another way, for example with the tip of your brolly or your car-key, that is what the note says.

Appreciate your comments.

Regards, Ron.


Regards, Johanna
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Postby DC » Sun Apr 06, 2008 1:19 pm

The note to R20-1 is two sentences. They comment on different issues IMO. D20-1/16 says that there is no penalty for failing to act in accordance with the note. The question is only about the first sentence of the note.

The last paragraph in D20-1/16 is new this revision and supports what is said in the note. I am still not happy that a player can mark to the side in the absence of interference to another player.

The key IMO is the first phrase of the last paragraph of that decision.

When moving a ball or ball-marker to the side to prevent it from interfering with another player’s stance or stroke, the player may measure from the side of the ball or ball-marker.

If the player can mark to the side in the absence of interference to another player what is the point of the words I have made bold in the quote above?



Johanna - this is a real situation.
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Postby Johanna » Sun Apr 06, 2008 2:00 pm

David,

Let's go back to the Rule first. The note under Rule 20-1 says that to mark the ball on the green, the player should place a ball-marker immediately behind the ball. The note then continues saying that if the ball-marker interferes with the play, stance or stroke of another player, it should be placed one or more clubhead-lengths to the side.
Then the last paragraph of Decision 20-1/16 comes into the picture. It says that if the ball or ball-marker is moved to the side to stop it interfering, the player may measure from the side of the ball.

The US/20-1/100 Placing Ball-Marker to Side Decision (2004-2005), which clarifies it was:

Q. If a player is requested to mark the position of his ball to the side of where it lies, must he place a ball marker behind the ball, measure a clubhead-length to the side of the marker and then move the marker to the side? Or may the player simply measure a clubhead-length from the side of the ball and eliminate one step?

A. The player may measure from the side of the ball.

The R&A now seems to have accepted the USGA way of marking the ball sideways, and both have incorporated it in the Decisions.

The USGA Decision Book has a ring band which is handy because it stays open flat without having to resort to something heavy to keep it open.
You need an American friend in the US to get a copy because they don't sell almost anything to do with the RoG to persons outside the USGA jurisdiction :( .
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Postby DC » Sun Apr 06, 2008 2:03 pm

Johanna

I have no issue with marking to the side per se. It is whether this is allowed in the absence of any interference to another player. My previous post attempted to highlight why this might not be allowed.

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Postby DC » Sun Apr 06, 2008 2:09 pm

Also Johanna you cited

Q. If a player is requested to mark the position of his ball to the side of where it lies.....

I am wondering about the first 5 words. The player is requested. May he do this in the absence of interference?
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Postby Johanna » Sun Apr 06, 2008 2:17 pm

David,

At 10.39 this morning I wrote:

[Quote]I don't think it is OK to mark to ball one or more clubheads sideways if there is no need to. The note under Rule 20-1, last sentence, says: "If the ball-marker interferes with the play, stance or stroke of another player, it should be placed one or more clubhead-lengths to one side."
I take that to mean that you may only do so if there IS interference.[Unquote]

If there is no interference and the player nevertheless marks one or more clubhead-lengths to the side of the ball, he is not marking the ball in accordance with the Rules IMHO.
See also Decision 20-1/20 where the player is not marking the ball properly, and incurs one penalty stroke.

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Postby Johanna » Sun Apr 06, 2008 2:23 pm

David,

Our messages passed each other somewhere between the UK and Breda!
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Postby michael » Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:23 pm

Hi DC,
I've missed all this I've been painting the kitchen.
I can't see why on earth anyone would want to move his ball on the green if there was no need to, but you say this was a real situation, just out of interest what reason was given for moving the ball?
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Postby DC » Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:39 pm

Michael

It was a friendly match and I invoked my right to ignore the situation (D2-5/1). I should have asked afterwards but forgot to.

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Postby Ron » Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:43 pm

Hi DC,

I am with Doug on this one.

Other than the requirements that the ball must be marked before being lifted, and must be replaced if moved during the lifting and marking process, and the ball subsequently to be played from it's original position, there is no restriction or penalty mentioned, that the ball or ball marker can only be moved one or two club-head lengths if requested to.

I do, however, agree the practice of marking where it rests, and only moved when requested to is how we all usually proceed, but IMO has no foundation in the Rules of Golf.

IMO, D20-1/11, though different, is interesting in that it states in part," A player is entitled to move his ball-marker to the side".

It is interesting to note the absence of the word request, or indeed any reference to a specific distance.

Imagine an RO penalising a player for moving his ball one or two club-lengths when not requested to.

How does the RO respond when correctly asked by the player, "Where does it say that I can't do that in rules"?

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Postby DC » Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:04 pm

Hi Ron

We might have to agree to disagree on this one. I am with Johanna. :)

In D20-1/11 the player is entitled to move the ball marker to the side because it assists the other player (it may interfere in another situation). I have no issue with this. My question remains, is the player entitled to move the ball marker to the side if it clearly does not assist (or interfere) with the other player?

The reason D20-1/11 does not mention 'request' is because it is an assist situation not an interfere situation.

Cheers

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Postby Doug » Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:05 pm

Just to add to Ron's final point. If if the RO can find where it says the player can't do it, exactly what penalty statement applies? Where does it say that?
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Postby Johanna » Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:20 pm

Doug,

The note under Rule 20-1 says "If the ball marker interferes with the play etc." it should be placed one or more clubhead-length to one side.

In the query David poses, there is no interference, yet the player moves the ball-marker to the side. That is a breach of Rule 20-1 (not marking the ball immediately behind the ball), and the penalty statement of Rule 20-1 in match-play is Loss of Hole, and in stroke play two strokes (page 90 R&A Rules of Golf book).
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Postby Doug » Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:16 pm

The position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball.

Understand the words
'should' means the action is recommended but is not mandatory
'must' means it is an instruction and there is a penalty if it is not carried out
That says very clearly there is no penalty for not following a should recommendation. You cannot be penalised for not following a recommendation. Are you also suggesting that if the player uses something other than a small coin or similar he would incur a penalty.
Remember dec 20-1/16 says The provision in the Note to Rule 20-1 is a recommendation of best practice, but there is no penalty for failing to act in accordance with the Note.

As another example, the npr procedure recommends a procedure that the player should follow. There is no penalty for not following the procedure only for not dropping in a correct place.

In this case the penalty is for not replacing the ball in the right place. If the the player can show that the procedure he uses will guarantee an accurate replacement no rule is broken.
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Postby Johanna » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:30 am

Hi Doug,
My comments in bold print.

Doug wrote:The position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball.
That is what the note says, but in the Rule it says: The position of the ball MUST be marked before it is lifted etc. The note recommends by what means the ball should be marked

Understand the words
'should' means the action is recommended but is not mandatory
'must' means it is an instruction and there is a penalty if it is not carried out
Yes, I know the difference between the two words and their meanings.
That says very clearly there is no penalty for not following a should recommendation. You cannot be penalised for not following a recommendation. Are you also suggesting that if the player uses something other than a small coin or similar he would incur a penalty..
I'm not suggesting that. In an earlier contribution I mentioned that to use the tip of a brolly or car keys to mark the position would also be OK
Remember dec 20-1/16 says The provision in the Note to Rule 20-1 is a recommendation of best practice, but there is no penalty for failing to act in accordance with the Note.
Nobody has suggested that a player incurs a penalty if he uses a small object other than the ones recommended in the note.
As another example, the npr procedure recommends a procedure that the player should follow. There is no penalty for not following the procedure only for not dropping in a correct place.

In this case the penalty is for not replacing the ball in the right place. If the the player can show that the procedure he uses will guarantee an accurate replacement no rule is broken.


The question was: If a player's ball on the green is NOT interfering with another player's play or stance, is he still permitted to mark the ball sideways one or more clubhead-lengths, after first having placed a mark immediately behind the ball.
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Postby Doug » Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:47 am

Johanna
My apologies. I wasn't trying to suggest that you didn't know the difference between the words. I know you know. And you know I know you know. I was trying to reinforce the point that the whole process is simply a recommendation.
The only compulsion is that the ball must be marked and that it is returned to its original position.

The small object is only one of the elements in the Note. The other is the phrase 'immediately behind the ball'. The decision confirms that this is also optional. There is no penalty for failing to act in accordance with the Note.


DC asked two questions. I have been giving my answer to both at the same time.

But I'll answer them separately

1) is it acceptable for a player to mark his ball one or more clubhead-lengths to one side in the absence of interference with the play, stance or stroke of another player?

Yes. The note is only covering the specific question of interference. It does not mention the action in general. Presumably because they hadn't anticipated anyone wanting to do it.

2. When marking two or more clubhead-lengths to one side, should a marker be placed temporarily for each one length measurement of the club head?

The (non-mandatory) method is not set out in detail. It simply says that the process should be reversed when replacing the ball.
I would suggest it is safer to place a mark temporarily for each incremental clubhead.
But as long as you can guarantee its accurate return that's all that is required.

Of course with any movement which requires incremental measuring, a chance of error is introduced with every step (which may be doubled on return). If more than two or three steps are involved a school geometry kit should be used. More accurate would be two tees, a length of string and a tape measure. :wink:
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As a Rules Official on duty what would I do?

Postby Richard J S » Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:19 am

If I saw a Competitor mark his ball directly to the side one clubhead length my first concern would be that he remembered this action and subsequently did not play from a wrong place.
I would be wondering why he took such direct action without checking with an FC about interference. I would guess that he was trying to avoid delay potentially caused by marking behind the ball and then having to go through the process of re-marking to the side.
I would not go hardline although I see the case supported by some in this thread.
I think the important thing is the replacement of the ball at the original spot.
If it was possible to chat to the player casually about this after the play of the hole I would suggest that consider ceasing this action as a general practice in case it was refered to a Committee who might make an unfavourable ruling. I would mention the risk of failing to replace, as well.
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Re: As a Rules Official on duty what would I do?

Postby Doug » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:30 am

Richard
I agree with everything you said, especially the final sentence
but

Richard J S wrote:a Committee who might make an unfavourable ruling.


I am still wondering what words the Committee would use, by quoting directly from the book, to impose a penalty.

I would draw an analogy with Dec 24-2b/2 where the player does not follow a recommended procedure but incurs no penalty if the end result is correct.
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Postby michael » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:05 am

Hi everyone,
Since this has gone on a surprisingly long time, can I stick in my two penneth.

I don't suppose the Rules contemplate the action of moving a marker (or ball as the case may be) to the side when there is no interference whatsoever - simply because - as I asked earlier - why on earth would anyone want to?
As far as being allowed within the Rules my feeling is that it might be looked on questioningly - but it would be OK.
Dec 20-1/11, allows the player to interpret what proximity constitutes 'assistance', that in itself would have to allow occasional completely unnecessary movement.

However the cynic in me would suggest that if there is no good reason for doing something - then it can only be being done for a bad reason.
Which is why I like what Richard said -

If it was possible to chat to the player casually about this after the play of the hole I would suggest that consider ceasing this action as a general practice ...

But I agree with Doug, if a player insists and persists I can't see what there is within the Rules to stop him.

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