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Playing the Ball
Lifting, Dropping, Marking, Wrong, Unplayable, Moved or Deflected, Substituted,
|Clubs and Balls||
Play the ball as it lies. Play the course as you find it. And if you can't do either, do what is fair
Lifting and Dropping
Apart from taking a ball out of a hazard, lifting was initially allowed only for balls touching, then within six inches of each other from 1775.
R &A 1858 stipulated a drop on a line from the hole behind the hazard, establishing the principle used ever since.
R&A 1891 in stroke play allowed a ball to be teed for lost ball and a ball 'lifted out of any difficulty', (in match play both these occurrences were loss of hole).
The first mention of placing, rather than dropping, a ball on the putting green came in 1902.
The method of dropping a ball had a few early variants:
Re-dropping was required if the ball:
1952 One re-drop before placing if the ground is such that it prevents a correct drop.
Lifting for ID
R&A 1891 sees the first mention of placing a ball on the putting green, no doubt at the behest of greenkeepers who around this time started keeping the area around the hole well-tended.
The featherie ball did not fly very far, so the issue of playing a ball from outside the match probably did not arise very often. Also the balls were far too expensive to leave behind on the course, so a stray ball was a rare thing.
1891 R&A. Penalty for playing an opponent's ball changed to 1 stroke unless this was due to wrong information, then there was no penalty and the player replaced his ball.
1899 Penalty back to loss of hole. Stroke play, no penalty if corrected.
1902 If a player played a ball from outside the match, there was no penalty if opponent informed before playing. Otherwise loss of hole.
1908 In stroke play no penalty for playing one stroke with a wrong ball, but DQ for two successive strokes; no penalty if played from hazard.
1933 Stroke play penalty reduced to 2 strokes, but applies to the first stroke with the wrong ball.
1950 R&A. Reduction of penalty to one stroke if the player immediately informed his opponent, otherwise loss of hole. if player plays opponent's ball and then opponent plays a wrong ball - no penalty. For a ball outside the match 1 stroke -- treated the same.
1952. Playing a wrong ball is loss of hole, or 2 strokes in stroke play.
1954, added that strokes played with a wrong ball do not count in player's score.
2008 As identification is now allowed in a hazard, the penalty for playing a wrong ball from a hazard is reinstated.
The Wrong Rule, 1964-71
Edinburgh Burgess in 1807 introduced a rule for medal play allowing a player to lift a ball at any time and drop it over his shoulder, penalty one stroke. The same rule was applied by the Honourable Company in1809, Thistle 1824 and Perth 1825.
Burntisland 1828 introduced a novel version of the unplayable ball: if the player believes he cannot play the ball, his adversary may try to do so. If the adversary either fails or declines to do so, the player can then proceed to drop the ball.
R&A 1858 Match play, play the ball as it lies or lose the hole, except if the ball is on an obstruction or in water in which case no penalty but the ball must be played with an iron club. Stroke play, the ball may be lifted from anywhere and teed behind the place; 2 penalty strokes.
Liverpool (Hoylake; now Royal Liverpool) 1870: An opponent was allowed three strokes in which to make the ball playable, if he succeeded, the player incurs the additional strokes; if not, the opponent added them to HIS score!
1902. Stroke play, 2 penalty strokes and the player shall tee a ball behind the spot.
1920: Ball now can be 'deemed' unplayable anywhere on the course; penalty stroke and distance in match play, stroke and distance or tee behind the place for 2 strokes in stroke play.
Although a ball could be declared unplayable anywhere at this time, if a player's ball was in a water hazard, by following the water hazard Rule he could get back into play for one penalty stroke instead of two in stroke play (or loss of hole in match play).
The blueprint for the modern unplayable rule came from:
1950. Unplayable is defined: 'if the player consider he cannot make a stroke at it and dislodge it into a playable position'.
Also in 1950 penalties reduced to distance only for lost, out of bounds and unplayable.
Relief either distance only or within 2 club lengths, 1 penalty stroke. Provisional ball for a ball unplayable not allowed.
1952 Lost, Unplayable, OOB all under same rule and penalties. Player is sole judge whether his ball is unplayable, and it can be declared Unplayable anywhere. Options are stroke and distance or 2 strokes and drop back on a line. Provisional ball allowed.
1984 became a rule in its own right
1891 R&A. 'Moved' defined, as today.
1908 A ball moved by another - player can choose to play as it lies or replace (MP); must be replaced in SP.
Ball moves after address: play it as it lies, from 1988 ball must be replaced.
1775 Gentlemen Golfers. Ball deflected by adversary or his caddie, 1 penalty stroke to the adversary.
1812 St Andrews. Ball strikes adversary/caddie, adversary loses hole. Strikes own cady, loss of hole.
1829 St Andrews. add equipment; and if strikes self, loss of hole.
1858 R&A. Double hit, lose hole.
1968 Stance defined.
1744 From the start, there was no provision for substituting a ball: rule 3. In Rule 8, Substitution was allowed only for a ball lost (in whatever way). In what is now a water hazard, a player was allowed to take relief but with the same ball.
This situation continued uniformly throughout the codes of the 19th century, until R&A 1858 which allowed a change of ball from a water hazard and for a broken ball (this appears around the time the more fragile gutta percha ball was becoming popular).
Isle of Wight 1886 allowed a substitute ball for broken/damaged ball, a ball moved by an outside agency, if played by an opponent, in water, or a water hazard, OOB, and lost.
R&A 1888 also allowed for substitution for a ball in water, moved by an OA, and broken/damaged - added with opponent's consent in 1891.