Ask the Rules Guy: Dogs eating balls and out-of-bounds stances

Ask the Rules Guy: Dogs eating balls and out-of-bounds stances


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RULES REP: After driving up the edge of the fairway,
I found my tee shot at the feet of a Labrador
retriever. The dog was on a long leash tied to
a house beside the fairway, near (or maybe
even exactly where) I had seen my drive land.
The cover of the ball was half-chewed and
soaking wet, but it was mine. I dropped another
ball and finished the hole, despite my buddy
complaining that there was no way to be sure
where the ball first landed. Please let me know
the rule so I can end my buddy’s protest.

D. Lewis, via e-mail

I’m having trouble deciding whether
that pup was a poorly trained course
dog or well-trained retriever. The ruling,
however, is much easier to discern. The
wayward pooch should be treated as an
outside agency. Without evidence he moved
the ball you are entitled to play it as it lies
(Rule 18-1) without penalty. Assuming your
friend agreed that your original ball was
unfit for play (you must ask under Rule 5-3),
then you did nothing wrong and can crawl
out of your pal’s doghouse.

Here’s the situation: Out-of-bounds
stakes denote the
property line on my course.
My ball comes to rest a half-inch
from the property line,
but is in bounds. The club
has posted signs warning
competitors not to trespass
on private property. Can I
stand out of bounds to strike
a ball that is in bounds?

Dan Powell, via e-mail

The definition of
“out of bounds” in the
Rules of Golf lets the player
stand out of bounds while
playing a ball that is in
bounds. As far as the signs
that your club is posting, it
sounds more like legal advice
than rules advice. It can’t
hurt to see what your local
committee has to say, but in
the meantime the Rules say
play on… just tread lightly
on the neighbor’s lawn.

Here’s one for you. My golf buddy Pete and I were
playing on a windy December day. As Pete was
hitting his tee shot on a par 5, the wind blew the
ball off the tee. Pete couldn’t stop his swing and hit
the ball as it was falling off the tee. Consequently,
the weak shot landed in a hazard. Pete re-teed but
didn’t take a penalty. Should he have?

Jim McGraw, Memphis, Tenn.

Your buddy likely got his Rules a little
confused. While he was correct that Rule
11-3 allows you to re-tee (without penalty) a
ball that has fallen off the peg, that only applies
if the player has not made a stroke at the ball.
Since Pete had made a stroke at his ball, the
ball was in play. However, at any time a player
may, under penalty of one stroke, play a ball
from where the previous stroke was made
(Rule 27-1a). As the previous stroke was made
from within the teeing ground, the ball may be
teed (Rule 20-5a). Pete was allowed to re-tee his
ball, but should have realized that he was lying
three after he hit it (Decision 18-2a/2).