Has your perfect shot been gunned down clay-pigeon style by another ball? Our Rules of Golf expert explains how to get out of this calamity

Thanks to Colin Leather for letting his imagination run wild with this emailed Rules of Golf query.

“We were playing at Banstead Downs in a fourball – ready golf. Player 1 was on the wide right of the 15th fairway, approximately 110 yards from the green. Player 2 was on the left of the fairway approximately 120 yards from the green.

“Both played almost simultaneously and the balls very nearly collided in mid air as their flight paths crossed.

“If they had collided, what would the ruling have been? Play balls as they lie, replay shots or…?”

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

This is taking ready golf to extremes – or maybe they were trying to pull off one of those trick shots that take social media by storm.

As rare as this would be, I’m sure it’s happened before and it is provided for in the Rules of Golf.

What we have got here are two balls in motion accidentally hitting an outside influence – in this case the other ball in motion.

Rule 11.1a says, in these circumstances, there is no penalty to any player “if a player’s ball in motion accidentally hits any person or outside influence”.

Both balls must be played as they lie, so just hope if you ever have a mid air collision that you get a soft landing.

What about more common circumstances?

There are two occasions when you wouldn’t play it as it lies under Rule 11.1b.

The first is if the ball, played from anywhere except the green, comes to rest on any person, animal or moving outside influence. In that case you have to take relief.

You’ll drop if the ball is off the green, or place it on the “estimated spot right under where the ball first came to rest on the person, animal or moving outside influence” when the ball is on the putting surface.

The second arises when a ball in motion played from the green accidentally hits any person, animal or movable obstruction – including another ball in motion – on the putting green.

This one’s actually a bit more likely. In this case, the stroke doesn’t count and the ball must be replaced on its original spot. If you’ve forgotten where that was, estimate as best you can.

But there’s more. This second exception doesn’t apply if a ball in motion hits another ball at rest or a ball marker on the green (see last’s week’s column for what happens then) or if it accidentally hits the flagstick or anyone attending it. In that case you’d play it as it lies.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

If you’ve sent me an email and are yet to hear back from me, I will try to answer your query. I have been inundated with requests in recent weeks and am working hard to try and get through them but it might take a little time!

In recent weeks, I’ve received a number of emails from players hoping I can intervene in a club rules dispute. For fairly obvious reasons, I can’t do that and would direct those players either to their county or to the rules department at the R&A for a definitive judgement.

Click here for the full Rules of Golf explained archive and details of how to submit a question to our expert.

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