If you're a tour star, you sign a glove for them. For the rest of you, apologise profusely. But what about your next shot? Our rules expert Steve Carroll has the answer

It’s enough to send you hopping mad.

Elvis Smylie was negotiating a birdie putt at the New Zealand Open when he ‘copped’ one from the group behind – the offending ball striking his foot and sending him into a little shuffle before bouncing away.

Fair play to Elvis. He would have been forgiven for being all shook up, but he brushed it off and made the putt. He even birdied four of the last six holes to make the cut.

What you didn’t see, though, was what happened to the offending ball.

We could talk all day about the etiquette on this one – just don’t hit a ball into the group in front! – but how do the Rules of Golf deal with what happens next? If you’re unfortunate enough to ever see your ball strike another person, how do you proceed?

Let’s take a look…

Golf ball hits person or outside influence

Rule 11.1 covers when a ball in motion accidentally hits a person or outside influence.

There is no penalty, and that’s the case even if the ball hits the player themselves, an opponent or any other player, their caddies or their equipment.

Most of the time, if this happens you are just going to be playing the ball as it lies but there are a couple of exceptions.

If the ball comes to rest on any person, animal, or outside influence and is being played from anywhere except the green relief must be taken.

So what do you do? You find the estimated point right under where the ball first came to rest on that person, animal or outside influence. That’s your reference point.

You then have a one club relief area to carry out a drop. Remember that can’t be any nearer the hole than the reference point and it’s got to be in the same area of the course as that point.

And the ball comes to rest on any person, animal (you get the drift), on the green, then you place the ball on the estimated spot right under where it first came to rest on them.

Have you been hit by a golf ball? How did it happen and how was it resolved? Let me know with a tweet.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s Level 3 rules exam with distinction, I’ll try to help by featuring the best in this column.

You can read all of Steve’s Rules of Golf explained columns here.

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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