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April 2008
By Clyde Luther

Exerting Influence on Ball.  That is the title to Rule 1-2, a Rule that recently got one college player a two stroke penalty.  Let’s review the situation. The situation that resulted in the penalty involved, unfortunately, his coach.  Rule 1-2 states that “A player or caddie must not take any action to influence the position or the movement of a ball, except in accordance with the Rules."

Now what took place?  A player had hit his ball into a lateral water hazard and was executing the two club length option as prescribed in Rule 26-1 and dropped his ball accordingly.  As he dropped the ball, the ball started to roll into the hazard and acting in what he thought was proper manner, the coach stopped the ball while it was in motion before it had reached a point where it was obvious where it would come to rest. The coach had taken an action that exerted influence on the movement of the ball. At first thought one would think that the player would be absolved from any penalty since it was an act of his coach (an outside agency) but  there are several decisions in the Rules of Golf that make it clear that if a player observes and accepts the actions of an outside agency, tacitly or otherwise, the player incurs the penalty and certainly in this case the player observed the actions of his coach. These decision are 13-2/4, 13-2/33 and 13-2/36.

As stated above, the penalty for this action was a two stroke penalty, but what happens after the ball has been stopped before it went into the hazard.  The Rules state in this situation that the player must play the ball from where it was stopped but frequently we see players that will redrop the ball which now results in an additional two stroke penalty for a total of four strokes.  A coach should be very careful not to involve himself in the players’ game other than following what is allowed under the Advice Rule.

 
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