Rules to Play By An Honest Mistake


Editor's note: Ray Herzog, a rules expert from the San Diego Golf Academy in Orlando, Fla., will be presiding over cases presented by you the reader. Please submit your on-course dispute and let Rules Judge Ray settle it.
Case presented by David Bohn:
My opponent and I are playing match play. Once on the green, I make my putt for double bogey and my opponent is laying a mere 6 feet from the hole. I ask him 'what's that for' (meaning his remaining putt) and he says 'par.' Figuring he will at worst two-putt, I concede the putt (and the hole) to him. Then, as we are walking to the next hole, I start re-thinking his play on the preceding hole, and, after re-counting in my head, say to him: 'I think that putt was actually for bogey, not par.' We then proceed to talk through his shots on the previous hole, and he concludes I was correct - it was for bogey. I therefore had conceded a very questionable putt to (lose) the hole - based on his mis-information. I think he made an honest mistake, but nonetheless ... What should we have done?
The answer to your question can be found in Rule No. 9 ' Information as to Strokes Taken. If you look up rule 9-2b (ii) it states:
A player is deemed to have given wrong information if he gives incorrect information during play of a hole regarding the number of strokes taken and does not correct the mistake before his opponent makes his next stroke.
As soon as you conceded your opponent his next stroke and he picked the ball up, your opponent basically played his next stroke. Since he did not correct his error in time, he loses the hole. You should have awarded yourself the hole and adjusted the score of the match at that time.
The same would be true if you realized the mistake a few holes later. When an opponent gives wrong information and does not correct the mistake in time, it is a loss of hole penalty. It is a shame that it was an honest mistake, but most rules infractions are.
-- Ray
Case presented by Joe Orlando:
In a four ball match, (my) partner is out of the hole and I am putting for par from 18 feet. (My) ball stops and hangs on the lip. I slowly begin to walk to the ball, which I believe may still fall in the cup. Well before ten seconds expires, my opponent knocks my ball away and concedes the next putt. It is my position that he acted in violation of the rules and that my play was not concluded. Did he violate the rules? And, if so, what is the penalty?
In the Decisions on The Rules of Golf, 16-2/2 is almost exactly like your question. It basically asks if your opponent was entitled to knock your ball away. The answer in the book states:
No. Under rule 16-2, you are allowed a reasonable time to reach the hole and an additional 10 seconds to determine whether your ball is at rest. Since your opponent infringed on your rights, he was in breach of Rule 1-2 (Exerting Influence on Ball) and loses the hole.
You were correct when you thought his act was a violation of the rules.
Thanks for the questions,
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