Dear Rules Guy: My opponent asked me to tend the flagstick for him because he couldn’t see the hole. After he putted, however, I discovered that the stick was stuck in the cup! His ball proceeded to hit the pin and bounce 10 feet away. After much discussion, he played it as it lay without penalty. Did we do the right thing?
-- Don Moberg, East Sandwich, Mass.
A sticky situation, indeed. Decision 17-3/2 goes to great lengths to outline all the possible scenarios that could unfold under such circumstances. Your interpretation, though, missed the mark. Because your failure to remove the flagstick was not deliberate, and because you were acting on your opponent’s behalf, he actually loses the hole under Rule 17-3. In stroke play, he would incur a penalty of two strokes and then play the ball as it lay. Since you were not acting with the intent to cause your opponent to incur a penalty or influence the movement of his ball, nothing sticks to you in this situation.