Ask the Rules Guy: What do you do if a squirrel chews up your ball?

Ask the Rules Guy
Jason Raish

Dear Rules Guy: Last week, I drove one near a tree. When I reached my ball, a squirrel had picked it up and was chewing on it! I yelled at it to drop the ball. He ran up the tree, ball in mouth, then dropped it. My ball was all chewed up and now deep in the woods. What should I have done?
— Harry S. Burritt, via e-mail

Lucky for you, the rules aren't as fuzzy as your new friend. Rule 18-1 says that a ball moved by an outside agency can be replaced without penalty. And since the varmint turned your rock into Titleist tartare, you can replace it, too. According to Rule 5-3, "Ball Unfit for Play," you're allowed to swap out a ball that is "visibly cut, cracked or out of shape." (It doesn't mention "chewed," but I think that applies.) Inform your group of the issue, mark the spot, replace the ball and aim for the fairway.