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golf balls collide

Our two putts have collided on the green – what do we do now?

Who’s turn was it? You’ve both jumped the gun and your two moving balls have become entangled on their way to the hole. What happens when golf balls collide?

 

Everyone’s in such a hurry now, aren’t they? Ready Golf, 40 seconds for a shot, we’re almost falling over each other in a rush to get on with it.

All right, I jest, of course, but the ambition to speed up a round can bring some interesting Rules situations out on the course.

It’s not unusual now for players to hit putts quickly after one another – especially if they’re from distance and there is a little chance of them finding the bottom of the hole.

So what if two of you are on the green, hit a putt at a similar time, and both balls in motion then strike each other. How does that get sorted out?

You know in stroke play a putt which hits a ball at rest on the putting green, when both are on the dancefloor, is a breach of Rule 11.1a and results in two penalty strokes.

But is it different if both balls are moving? What happens if golf balls collide?

golfers on green putting the lost art of putting

Golf balls collide on a green: What do the Rules of Golf say?

It is different and it’s just been set straight in a new clarification to Rule 11.1 in the quarterly review of the Rules of Golf.

A ball is a movable obstruction, it says, including when it is in motion on the putting green.

“If it is known or virtually certain a player’s ball in motion played from the putting green accidentally hits another ball in motion on the putting green, the player must replay the stroke”.

Here’s another interesting bit. You can do that by “playing the original ball or another ball from the spot where that stroke was made”. You can even switch balls if you wish!

There are two things to bear in mind from this new clarification. Can you spot them?

The first is the contact must be accidental. Trick shots for TikTok don’t get you a do-over in a competition. The second is that your ball has to have been played from the putting green.

If you are off the green and your ball in motion hits a moving putt that has been played from the dancefloor, well, they can replay their stroke (their ball in motion played from the putting green accidentally hit another ball in motion on the putting green).

You, though, are playing yours as it lies under the usual stipulations of Rule 11.1b.

Got a question for our expert?

Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 and 2023, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.

Have you ever seen golf balls collide on green? Let me know by leaving a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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