fbpx
Lost golf ball

Rules of Golf explained: A player hit my ball but returned it too late – what happens now?

Found out your ball has been moved only after the search time has expired? Rules of Golf expert Steve Carroll reveals your next move
 

Come across a ball? Never assume it’s yours. There’s nothing compelling you to put an identification mark on your ball, but I always try to do so, if only to avoid what’s about to happen in Sean McClean’s email when it’s lifted by another golfer.

He writes: “A player plays a shot and when he/she reaches the anticipated landing area there is no sign of it. The player and playing partner/s search for three minutes but cannot find it.

“The player then begins the walk back to play another shot when a player from another group runs back to apologise for playing a wrong ball – the one which the original player could not find. Is that still treated as a lost ball as the three-minute search time was over?”

Is Sean’s protagonist continuing the long walk back to the tee, or has their ball been returned just in the nick of time? Let’s find out.

lost ball

Rules of Golf explained: Ball found after search time has expired

It is going to seem very unfair, but the ball is lost. Rule 9.6 says you’ve got to know, or be virtually certain, that your ball has been lifted or moved by an outside influence – in this case, a player from another group.

Our golfer here isn’t. The player has not seen it being moved, neither has their partners, and it doesn’t seem there was anyone else on hand to tell them what’s happened to the ball.

They’ve arrived on the scene, searched, and couldn’t find it. Once the three-minute search time after the player begins to look for it has expired, it doesn’t matter if the ball is then returned. It’s gone.

Their only option is to take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 18.2. Keep walking back, hit again, and add a penalty stroke.

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 3 rules exam with distinction, I’ll try to help by featuring the best in this column.

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.

Latest Posts

2023 Rules of Golf changes replacing golf ball on spot

Rules of Golf

England Golf extend period for preferred lies

By

Read full article about England Golf extend period for preferred lies
rules beginner

Rules of Golf

What are the key rules beginner golfers should know?

By

Read full article about What are the key rules beginner golfers should know?
Want to play the same game as the pros? That means playing the same Rules!

Rules of Golf

Want to play the same game as the pros? That means playing the same Rules!

By

Read full article about Want to play the same game as the pros? That means playing the same Rules!
gary woodland

Rules of Golf

Can you look into a player’s bag to see what club they’re using?

By

Read full article about Can you look into a player’s bag to see what club they’re using?
winter rules

Rules of Golf

5 Winter Rules Golfers Break!

By

Read full article about 5 Winter Rules Golfers Break!
golf divot

Rules of Golf

My ball has landed on a divot – can I move it?

By

Read full article about My ball has landed on a divot – can I move it?
animal scrapings

Rules of Golf

Do I get free relief from animal scrapings?

By

Read full article about Do I get free relief from animal scrapings?
rule changes

Rules of Golf

5 Rule Changes You Need To Know!

By

Read full article about 5 Rule Changes You Need To Know!
Golf club committee

Rules of Golf

The prizes were handed out but the committee got my score wrong – should the results be changed?

By

Read full article about The prizes were handed out but the committee got my score wrong – should the results be changed?