Question: Keith Le Roux

Your ball is on a steep slope in the rough. You are at the ball busy taking a stance, but before you address the ball, it rolls down the slope (not by anything you did). Is there a penalty and should the ball be replaced?

Answer:

A ball is deemed to have moved if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place, whether it moved vertically or horizontally.

If having taken your stance*, including grounding your club and the ball moves a 1 Stroke Penalty is incurred. The ball must be replaced before making a stroke otherwise a further 1 Stroke Penalty is incurred.

If the player has taken his stance but not addressed the ball (i.e. grounded his club) there is no Penalty unless the player has caused the ball to move – 1 Stroke Penalty. The ball must be replaced and if not done a further 1 Stroke Penalty.

In your case you had not grounded your club (addressed the ball) and it appears that you had not caused the ball to move ** (only you would know this) thus there is no Penalty and the ball must be played where it lies i.e. where it comes to rest. Do however remember, that should the same circumstances arise and should the ball roll into a bunker or water hazard then it must also be played where it comes to rest or relief taken under the relevant Rule.

The Rules regarding Addressing the Ball * and Ball Moving After Address ** have changed effective January, 2012. The new Rules are as follows:

Addressing the Ball: A player has addressed the ball simply by grounding his club immediately in front or behind the ball, regardless of whether or not he has taken his stance.

Thus the taking of your stance is no longer relevant in the Addressing of the Ball.

Ball Moving After Address: A new exception is added that exonerates the player from penalty if the ball moves after it has been addressed if it is “known or virtually certain” that he did not cause the ball to move.

Refer: Play Your Golf by the Rules:

  • Addressing the Ball – Pg. 21
  • Ball Moved – Pg. 39
  • Ball At Rest Moved – Pg. 41
  • Ball Played from Wrong Place – Pg. 45