My partner and I teed off and hit nearly identical drives deep into the right rough. We walked out to look for our balls and my partner spotted one first. He picked up the ball to identify it and saw that it had my trademark ‘X’ on the side. Instead of replacing it, he tossed my ball to me and went off in search of his own. I placed my ball in exactly the spot my buddy had picked it up. We finished out the hole, but not without complaints: The twosome we were playing against complained that since my partner had picked up the ball, only he was allowed to replace it. My partner countered that only the rightful owner could place the ball. Who was right, and if it wasn’t us, what was the penalty?
--R. Delgado, Dallas, Tex.
As it happens, in this case neither of them were right. According to Rule 20-3, a ball may be placed by any of three parties: the player that picked up the ball, the player who’s ball was picked up, or that player’s partner. So, in this case, either you or your partner were allowed to replace your ball. So even though your partner’s rationale was off, his conclusion was the right one: presuming you replaced the ball exactly where your partner picked it up, you were able to play on and complete the hole without penalty.