By Theo Manyama
The player needs to return to the place where he played the wrong ball and look for his own ball. We all make mistakes, in life and in golf.
But when it comes to golf, there are different degrees of mistakes. There are some Rules of Golf where you don’t have to correct your mistake, you are simply penalised strokes.
But this month I’d like to look at that section of the Rules of Golf where it demands that you immediately correct a mistake you have made.
In particular, I’d like to focus on the issue of playing the wrong ball.
Say a player hits a drive into the rough, and he arrives to find a ball. He doesn’t check to see if it’s his ball. He plays it and holes out with that ball.
The rule now requires him to correct the mistake. This means that before he tees off on the next hole he must correct his mistake. If he tees off on the next tee without correcting his mistake he is immediately disqualified.
The correction is that he needs to return to the place where he played the wrong ball and look for his own ball.
When he finds his ball, he plays that ball and scores with it. Then he adds a two-shot penalty for playing the wrong ball. The strokes he made with the wrong ball don’t count, only the two-stroke penalty on top of what he makes with his original ball.
If he is busy teeing it up on the next tee, and he may have already taken his stance, and he then suddenly notices he has the wrong ball he can still correct his mistake then. But as soon as he tees off on the next tee, he is automatically disqualified.
If this happens on his last hole of the round, he has to correct his mistake before he walks off the last green. As soon as he leaves the last green without correcting his mistake, he is disqualified.
So let’s assume he does indeed spot his mistake before the next hole. The correction would be as follows.
The player must return and look for his ball. He has five minutes to search for it at the position where he played the wrong ball. If he cannot find it in this time, then it’s a lost ball.
That would mean he has to return to where he played the last shot before that. In this case it was the tee so he tees it up again and is now playing three. Whatever score he goes on to make, he needs to add the two-shot penalty of playing the wrong ball.
If he and his playing partner played the wrong balls, they both have the same penalty and must apply the same correction as well.
If the player plays the wrong ball and his playing partner points this out, his playing partner must place a ball as near as possible to his original lie and not nearer the hole without penalty. If we are playing under the one-ball rule, he can put another ball into play but it must be of the same make and compression. However, it can be a different number.
So when it comes to this section of the Rules of Golf, this game is indeed a lot like life – make a mistake, but make sure you correct it.