Ask the Rules Guy: Getting goosed on the course

Ask the Rules Guy

Mr. Rules Man: I hit my approach shot to a green with water in front of it. The ball hit the far side of the water hazard, bounced once, hit a goose, and then bounced into the water. None of my playing partners knew how to rule it, so I dropped a ball where my first ball hit the goose and finished the hole without a penalty. Was I right?
— Ken Rogge, via e-mail

What’s bad for the goose is also not good for the golfer. Rule 19-1 says that it’s a "rub of the green" when a ball deflects off an outside agency. You must play from where the ball comes to rest, unless it was deliberately deflected by the outside agency. Not likely in this case. Your choices would be to play the ball in the hazard or proceed under the water hazard rule (Rule 26) with a one-stroke penalty. Or only play when the geese head south. At least the green fees will be cheaper.