Rules Guy: Does an ace still count if it bounces off a flagstick lying on the ground?

August 2, 2019
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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.

On the tee of a par 3, my friend and I noticed the flagstick wasn’t in the hole but rather lying on the ground nearby. My tee shot landed on the green, rolled toward the flagstick, hit it, and disappeared into the cup. I don’t think it’s a hole-in-one, because had the flagstick been in the hole the ball would have rolled past — but I am curious about the correct ruling. —DAVID TANNER, PROVO, UTAH

First off, David, kudos to you for your equanimity. Most golfers Rules Guy knows would be hiring attorneys threatening to sue the group ahead, the course, the township, everyone, if this weren’t deemed a legal ace. That said … it is an ace! On such an accidental rather than deliberate deflection, the player plays the ball as it lies. Yours lies in the cup, holed for a 1. Belated congratulations!

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