Rules Guy: What happens when your partner's ball knocks yours into the water?

December 28, 2018

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.
While playing in a mixed-team competition, I hit my drive down the left side of the fairway. My wife hit her drive behind and to the left of mine. Her next shot struck my ball, knocking it clear across the fairway and into the water. Unable to find my ball, I placed a new one in its original spot and played from there without penalty. Telling the story after the round, a competitor said I should have taken a two-stroke penalty because I didn’t find my original ball. Who is correct? —KURT HOWARD, BELLA VISTA, ARK.
Golf can test a marriage, so kudos to you and Mrs. Bankshot for apparently enduring this strange affair without even bickering! (That you didn’t ask your bride to go search the water for the ball was wise, too.)


Team Howard is in the clear. Under Rule 18-5, if a ball at rest is moved by another ball in motion, the ball that was at rest must be replaced to its original spot … but if that ball isn’t immediately recoverable then the player is indeed allowed to substitute in a new ball. Under no circumstances, however, are you allowed to substitute in a new wife.
Got a rules question? Of course you do! Whatever it may be, send yours to [email protected] and the question may be answered in an upcoming issue of GOLF. Until then, play by the Rules!