5th Hole @BrokenhurstGC – Ball moves on the putting green

The fifth is the second par 3 at Brokenhurst and while very pleasing on the eye it does come with a good degree of challenge. Anything between 140 and 175 in length it is at right angles to the 3rd (the first par 3) so you will have to contend with a different wind. The generous green has a false front and slopes from right to left so judging the break on a long putt isn’t easy. Miss on the right and you will be playing down the green – miss it left and you will hope to be in one of the bunkers as otherwise it will kick into the trees.

My tee shot here has ended up near the top of this false front and I’ve managed to get to the ball and mark it before the combined effects of gravity and the wind have rolled it back down the slope. But as soon as I replace it the ball starts rolling – what should I do?

Normally when the ball is moved by “natural forces” (i.e. the effects of nature such as wind, water, or when something happens for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity) the ball must be played from its new position under Rule 9.3.

However, Rule 9.3 points to an exception at Rule 13.1d(2) which states that if the ball had already been lifted and replaced before it moved due to natural forces then it must be replaced on its original spot. (This would also apply if the ball marker were moved by natural forces). Please note that the ball must have been lifted – in other words if you have just put a marker down and not lifted the ball you must play it from its new position.

If you have not marked and replaced the ball on the putting green and it moves due to natural forces you must play it from its new position.

Note that the penalty for playing from the wrong place is the general penalty (2 strokes or loss of hole). Also in stroke play if you play from the wrong place and it is considered a “serious breach” because you have gained a significant advantage you may be disqualified. While technically possible, this is unlikely on the putting green!

This post only considers what to do if your ball is moved by natural forces. If it is moved by you, your caddy, your opponent, or an outside influence the procedure and penalties are different – all in Rule 9 and the subject of a different post.

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