Played the wrong ball


Aug 9, 2014
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In a singles medal comp yesterday, on the 15th hole, player A hit a well struck tee shot to the left into trees. We heard it flick several leaves but no hard thump. Player B then hit a poorly struck tee shot left into the trees. We saw it hit a tree and bounce back 10 yards. As we walked up the hole, we could see a ball in the area we though player B's ball would be and he played it towards the hole. We spent 3 minutes looking for player A's ball but could not find it, despite the rough being very short. As he was not doing well in the comp, he decided to NR rather than go back to the tee and play another ball as the group behind were now waiting on the tee. Player B completed the hole in 6 shots and when he picked the ball out of the hole realised it was player A's ball. He then NR'd rather than go back and find his ball as he was also doing badly in the comp.

1. At this stage, what are the options for player A?
2. If player A had decided to go back to the tee and player another ball and completed the hole, what would their options be?
3. If player B went back and found his ball and completed the hole, is it just a 2 shot penalty for him?


Well-known member
Dec 16, 2020
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1 & 2. Only option for A is stroke and distance - go back to the tee and play stroke #3.
3. Yes, if it is found within the 3 minutes.

Colin L

Tour Winner
May 26, 2012
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When you realise you have played a wrong ball set aside what happened with it and think back to where you were and what you were doing just before you played the wrong ball and carry on from that point as if there had been no interruption, adding on the two stroke penalty for playing it. Immediately before B played the wrong ball, he had played one shot and was going to where his ball was likely to be. Rewind to there and he is looking for his ball with 3 minutes in which to find it and play his next stroke which, with the penalty, would be his 4th. Or if he doesn't find it, it's stroke and distance. It's really as if nothing had happened apart from getting the general penalty. But as with most generalisations there are exceptions. In stroke play, strokes played with the wrong ball don't count and mostly penalties accrued don't either. There are circumstances, however, when you can get a penalty while playing the wrong ball. See Clarification 6.3c/1.1

Match play is, as is frequently the way, much simpler. B would have lost the hole the moment he played the wrong ball.