Ask the Rules Guy: Switcheroo

Ask the Rules Guy
SWITCHEROO
Rules Guy,
In my regular foursome I always share a cart with one of my friends, because we play good cart golf--we always seem to miss in the same spot. Last week, though, we took it to a new extreme. Teeing off on a par-3, my friend and I both hit our balls right to the very edge of a water hazard in front of the green. We’ve been in that spot many times, so neither of us were surprised to find our balls resting in the shallow end of the lake just off of the rough. My friend picked up a ball, so I naturally assumed he knew which one was his. I grabbed the other one, quickly dried it off, took a drop and played up to the green. He did the same and we both putted out. But when I picked my ball out of the cup, I immediately noticed that it wasn’t mine at all, it was his! I was sure my friend had cost me a couple of penalty strokes, but he insisted that it didn’t matter that we had switched balls, and that this was a “no harm, no foul” situation. Was he right?
--Christopher S., via e-mail



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