Rules Guy: If I accidentally hit my partner’s ball and he hits mine, do we both take a penalty?

April 19, 2019

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.

My buddy and I found our golf balls side by side, around 60 yards from the green. Naturally, he threw down: “I’ll bet you five bucks I get it tighter!” I accepted and knocked it near the hole, while he’s not in the same zip code. Only problem: We’d played each other’s ball. Never mind the penalty strokes and replaying our shots — shouldn’t the wager still stand? We both refuse to pay. —TIM CASEY, LAUREL, MONT.

If you mark your ball prominently, it will greatly diminish the chance you'll hit someone else's.
Getty Images

Regarding the wager, suffice it to say that it sounds like the two of you pals deserve each other — but consider just buying each other a drink and burying the hatchet thusly.

Ruleswise, in a match, whoever makes the first mistake of hitting the wrong ball loses the hole. In stroke play, also under Rule 6.3c, both players get a two-stroke penalty and must fix their mistake by going back and playing a ball from the spots where the exchange occurred, as you suggest. Anyway, five bucks says you won’t make that mistake again!

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!