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?
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.