Ask the Rules Guy: When you mark your ball on the green but it ends up in a lake

Ask the Rules Guy: When you mark your ball on the green but it ends up in a lake

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Ask the Rules Guy

POND-ERING WHY
Hey, Rules Guy: In a recent tournament, I had a putt for a par. I marked my ball and flipped it to my caddie, who bobbled it and let the ball roll through his legs and into a lake. What was the proper course of action? Could I have simply placed another ball on the green, without a penalty?
— Ken Eley, Newark, Ohio

Your caddie (was his nickname "Butterfingers"?) cost you. This situation actually happens more often than you'd think — Decision 15-2/1 (I'm not making this up) is entitled, "Player Substitutes Another Ball on Putting Green Because Original Ball Thrown to Caddie for Cleaning Came to Rest in Lake." Because Rule 16-1 lets you mark your ball but not substitute it, finishing the hole with a different ball will cost you a two-stroke penalty in stroke play under rule 15-2, "Substituted Ball." Your par is now a double.