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LOST AND LOST AND FOUND
Rules Rep: After hitting my drive into the rough, I walloped my second shot and lost my ball out of bounds. Or at least I thought it was my ball. After dropping (taking stroke and distance) and hitting my next shot into the green, I found my real ball just a few yards ahead. I finished out with my original ball, but neither I nor my opponent had any idea how to score the hole. What should I have done?
-- Kellen Fein, Astoria, N.Y.
You know what they say about assuming: It makes a mess of your scorecard. According to Decision 15/11, the ball you hit out of bounds is still considered a "wrong ball" (and the ball you dropped afterward a "continuation of play" on that wrong ball). If you were scoring in stroke play, you should have taken a two-stroke penalty for your mistake (Rule 15-3a) and continued the hole playing your original ball. If you were scoring in match play the answer is even simpler: You lost the hole. But look on the bright side -- at least you didn't lose your ball.
Hey Rules Guy: My temperamental friend took a big hack in a fairway bunker and moved his ball all of about 3 feet, still in the bunker. Disgusted, he slammed his club into the sand. Looking to kick him when he was down, I informed my buddy that he had to take a penalty for touching the bunker with his club. He claimed that since he had already taken a stroke in it, he could no longer "test" the bunker's condition. Was he right?
-- Howard Steller, Washington, D.C.
If your buddy keeps up his angry antics it's going to cost him a lot of friends and a lot of strokes. Decision 13-4/35 reinforces your argument that your friend's action was in violation of the rule prohibiting players from touching the bunker with their clubs (Rule 13-4b), even though he had already played a ball in that trap. You should gently tell him that his temper tantrum cost him two strokes or the loss of the hole in match play. And if he's got a club in his hand, maybe you should tell him over the phone. DOUBLE TROUBLE
Rules Guy: While hitting a ball out of a bunker, I hit it a second time with my club on the follow-through. What's the correct ruling?
-- Duane F. Pruett, via Facebook
While playing from a hazard can definitely make you second-guess your instincts on this double shot, the ruling is actually pretty straightforward. Rule 14-4 clearly states that in this circumstance, "the player must count the stroke and add a penalty stroke, making two strokes in all." The good news for you is that there is no additional penalty for being in any particular spot (whether it's the tee box, green or, in your case, a bunker), so you should have simply counted the two strokes and played your ball where it came to rest after your double hit. And keep your chin up -- lots of amateurs take two shots to get out of a bunker.
This article first appeared in the February 2012 issue of Golf Magazine. The February issue is on newsstands and the tablet version is available for free for magazine subscribers on iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, Nook Color and Samsung Galaxy Tab. Learn more