Nearest the pin marker

rulie

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It is not at all common that USGA responses to questions on that site break new ground, but it does occur on occasion. The specific one I'm referring to above is:

Question:
Interpretation 11.2a/1 allows a player to leave a rake, without penalty, left by a preceding group that might stop his downhill putt. What if a putter (or the rake) had been left on the green. Can the player leave it below the hole to potentially stop his putt if he misses? If he accidentally hits it (by missing putt) does the stroke count? I'm confused by, what seems to me, to be conflicting language in 11.1 vs 11.2a/1.

USGA RESPONSE

If the player knew his ball may hit the rake or putter that had been left behind by a preceding group, exception 2 to Rule 11.1b does not apply and because the object was not deliberately put in place by the player, Rule 11.2 does not apply. The ball must be played as it lies, because the player played the course as he found it.

The USGA subsequently added:

In your post above, the player is intentionally leaving the rake on the putting green because it might stop the ball. This is no longer an accident and why Exc 2 to 11.1b cannot apply. Since the player is not the one who left the rake/club there, 11.2 doesn't apply either. This is different from a player seeing the rake/club left behind thinking they're not likely in play, putting and then accidentally hitting one of them.
I disagree with the USGA subsequent response. Imo, it is contrary to 11.2a/1, where it says:

An example where the player does not get a penalty is when:
  • A rake has been left by a preceding group between the putting green and a bunker. A player, who has a downhill putt towards the bunker, sees the rake and leaves it there because it might stop the ball if his or her putt is too strong. The player putts and the ball is stopped by that rake.
The player incurs no penalty, therefore there was not a breach of the Rule.
 

salfordlad

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I disagree with the USGA subsequent response. Imo, it is contrary to 11.2a/1, where it says:

An example where the player does not get a penalty is when:
  • A rake has been left by a preceding group between the putting green and a bunker. A player, who has a downhill putt towards the bunker, sees the rake and leaves it there because it might stop the ball if his or her putt is too strong. The player putts and the ball is stopped by that rake.
The player incurs no penalty, therefore there was not a breach of the Rule.
I think you may be misreading this. The USGA is not saying anything inconsistent with 11.2a/1 - these rulings are not in competition or contradicting each other. 11.2a/1 is solely about whether a rule 11.2 penalty is incurred and they are affirming no, a player is free to leave the rake there. But they are saying that if the ball hits the rake stroke counts and it is play as lies, 11.1b Exc 2's requirement to cancel and replay stroke does not apply.
 

Colin L

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..... The USGA is not saying anything inconsistent with 11.2a/1 - these rulings are not in competition or contradicting each other. 11.2a/1 is solely about whether a rule 11.2 penalty is incurred and they are affirming no, a player is free to leave the rake there. But they are saying that if the ball hits the rake stroke counts and it is play as lies, 11.1b Exc 2's requirement to cancel and replay stroke does not apply.
Hmmm. Have I got this right? 🤔

a) A player leaves an obstruction that is off his line of play in place because he has no thought of his balll hitting it, his rather obvious intention being to knock his ball into the hole which is, after all, the essential purpose of golf . His putt goes off line, hits the obstruction and is deflected into the hole. He must cancel the stroke and replay.

b) A player leaves an obstruction that is off his line of play in place because although he has no intention of hitting it given that he too is aiming to knock his ball into the hole, he knows it might help him if his putt goes off line. His putt goes off line, hits the obstruction and is deflected into the hole. His ball is holed.

Great! The referee has to be a mindreader or get into the awkward business of probing the player's mind to establish what he was thinking.

In both these situations, the ball hitting the obstruction is accidental. Player b) does not hit it intentionally as his he was aiming (literally) to hole his ball.

The main outcome of this to my mind unacceptable. The player who leaves the obstruction in place knowing that it might help him if his putt is off line gets the benefit of his putt being holed where the other who just left it because it wasn't in his way, loses out if it deflects his ball into the hole by having to replay. It pays deliberately to be conscious of the the potential help the obstruction could give.

I'm usually grateful to others who share knowledge of these unpublished or, more recently, Facebook "published" rulings, but on this occasion I wish our Yorkshire informant hadn't. I would much rather not have known and been able to keep to the simplest application of Exception 2 whatever might or might not have been going through the player's mind. "Your ball hit an obstruction on the green with a shot played from the green? Replay the shot without penalty..... You're welcome, that's what we're here for."
 

salfordlad

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Hmmm. Have I got this right? 🤔

a) A player leaves an obstruction that is off his line of play in place because he has no thought of his balll hitting it, his rather obvious intention being to knock his ball into the hole which is, after all, the essential purpose of golf . His putt goes off line, hits the obstruction and is deflected into the hole. He must cancel the stroke and replay.

b) A player leaves an obstruction that is off his line of play in place because although he has no intention of hitting it given that he too is aiming to knock his ball into the hole, he knows it might help him if his putt goes off line. His putt goes off line, hits the obstruction and is deflected into the hole. His ball is holed.

Great! The referee has to be a mindreader or get into the awkward business of probing the player's mind to establish what he was thinking.

In both these situations, the ball hitting the obstruction is accidental. Player b) does not hit it intentionally as his he was aiming (literally) to hole his ball.

The main outcome of this to my mind unacceptable. The player who leaves the obstruction in place knowing that it might help him if his putt is off line gets the benefit of his putt being holed where the other who just left it because it wasn't in his way, loses out if it deflects his ball into the hole by having to replay. It pays deliberately to be conscious of the the potential help the obstruction could give.

I'm usually grateful to others who share knowledge of these unpublished or, more recently, Facebook "published" rulings, but on this occasion I wish our Yorkshire informant hadn't. I would much rather not have known and been able to keep to the simplest application of Exception 2 whatever might or might not have been going through the player's mind. "Your ball hit an obstruction on the green with a shot played from the green? Replay the shot without penalty..... You're welcome, that's what we're here for."
I don't see both your a) and b) as consistent with the USGA scenario: specifically "the player is intentionally leaving the rake on the putting green because it might stop the ball. This is no longer an accident and why Exc 2 to 11.1b cannot apply".

And I also note this context is a scenario I have never seen in multiple decades on the golf course - someone in a preceding group has left a rake/flagstick or whatever on the green near the hole in such a position that a person that has played subsequently onto that green and thinks "Oh yes, that will be very advantageous to my putt and because of my fine knowledge of 8.1d(1)/2 and 11.2, I know I can leave it there while I putt where it can stop my ball if I don't hole it and I will not be penalised". Human nature being what it is, on the extremely rare times I have seen a flagstick down on the green, the first person that gets near the green has invariably done the logical thing of putting it in the hole asap so everyone knows where the target is.

I also don't think the referee needs to be a mindreader (not here at least) - if the lightning strikes and you are called to this precise scenario after the ball strikes the object, a simple "and why did you leave the rake/flagstick where it was?" gets you the information to decide whether is is now play as lies or stroke does not count. Personally, I think this is a small price to pay to avoid a bizarre scenario of someone getting multiple legal stabs at the same 6 foot (or whatever) putt.

But, be assured, if I am aware of any further public rulings that are directly relevant to an item discussed in these pages, I'll include a health warning upfront so you can bypass the post or fortify yourself with a liver workout first.:geek:
 

Colin L

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Keep them coming - I'll go for the liver workout. 🍺
Mind you, I have been following the USGA Facebook page despite the frustrations of the labyrinthine structuring. How much easier it would have been if they had used standard forum software. But it's easy to pop in from time to time and just look for the USGA responses.

Agreed, the likelihood of players not putting the flagstick in the hole is remote to be too bothered and it's a somewhat academic point, but the Exception is about a ball accidentally hitting an object and my contention is that even if a player deliberately left the object in case it might be helpful, the ball hitting it is accidental because the player's purpose was to hole the ball. The object will not be on his line play and so it will not be his deliberate intention to hit it. The possibility of a player deliberately aiming to hit the object in order to deflect his ball into the hole is beyond bizarre and isn't worth contemplating.

But enough of semantic quibbles. The RB has spoken and it is as it is.
 

salfordlad

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That is a very sensible way to access that site. In the last 12 months, the number of folk joined has more than doubled and that process continues apace. And in perverse symmetrical fashion, the quality of the questions has halved and that process continues apace. But, at times, the USGA input is genuine, previously unpublished gold.
I'd also like to gently touch on a different sensitive issue. There was a certain geographical inaccuracy in #23, the wrong side of the Pennines was mentioned. Did news of the War of the Roses ever filter north of that erstwhile limit of civilization, Hadrian's Wall? (I use the term erstwhile because golf clearly proved existence of a civilized northern outpost).
 

Colin L

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That is a very sensible way to access that site. In the last 12 months, the number of folk joined has more than doubled and that process continues apace. And in perverse symmetrical fashion, the quality of the questions has halved and that process continues apace. But, at times, the USGA input is genuine, previously unpublished gold.
I'd also like to gently touch on a different sensitive issue. There was a certain geographical inaccuracy in #23, the wrong side of the Pennines was mentioned. Did news of the War of the Roses ever filter north of that erstwhile limit of civilization, Hadrian's Wall? (I use the term erstwhile because golf clearly proved existence of a civilized northern outpost).
Oh dear, I must have been thinking of Rulefan who hails from the eastern side of the Pennines and who no doubt sports a paler (but equally proud) rose. My sound Scottish history education covered inter alia the Wars of the Roses (colours correctly attributed) but never mentioned our fine sport amongst the many contributions we Scots have made to the betterment of mankind (fancy an Irn Bru, anyone?). I once applied (unsuccessfully) for a lectureship at the University of Lancaster which at least shows I was prepared to live amongst you in that part of the world. I also know a story about the red rose of Lancashire but it is far too rude for this wholesome forum and if posted would inevitably lead to my being barred. It did not feature, as you may guess, in the school history curriculum.

Sorry for the error which I expect is akin to someone calling me English and provokes the same annoyance. 😫
 

rulefan

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Oh dear, I must have been thinking of Rulefan who hails from the eastern side of the Pennines

I'm afraid you have been misled. Despite having lived on the wrong side of the Pennines for over half my life, my icons stand proudly overlooking the sea and the city.
Sorry for the error which I expect is akin to someone calling me English and provokes the same annoyance. 😫
I am not a Yorkist nor even Lancastrian
 
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Pants

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Having only an average knowledge of the rules, I must coness I was getting a tad confused in the end with all the quoted rules, decisions and exceptions discussed above. My head was hurting ;)

In simple terms, am I right in thinking that when a FC puts a ball marker down and asks if it's position is OK if it's near my line of play, if my ball hits it I have to replay the stroke (whether or not the ball is holed) but if I jokingly say "if I hit that then it might knock my ball back on line" and my ball does hit it, then the stroke counts and I play it as it lies or, if holed, then that's my good fortune? :unsure:
 

Colin L

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Please don't shoot the messenger: there is an exception to the Exception. :eek: You play your ball as it lies if when played from on the putting green it hits another ball at rest or a ball marker.

The Rule
If your ball hits a person, an animal or an object, you must play your ball as it lies [Rule 11.1b]
The Exception
If however, your ball hits a person, an animal or an object (including a moving ball) on the putting green after you have made a stroke from he putting green you must cancel the stroke and replay, except, if the object your ball hits is a ball at rest or a ball marker, you play your ball as it lies.
 
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Pants

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Thanks Colin - I think :unsure: Actually it all seems to be quite straightforward now. Can't understand why some people want the rules simplyfied ;)
 
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