You’ve hit the perfect shot but, wait, someone points out an error. Is this a hole in one, or do you get out of buying the drinks?
It’s a 12,500-1 shot and a feat some players will never celebrate. So, imagine, you’ve done the improbable – you’ve made a hole-in-one – and the rules police strike up.
Will your joy turn to agony? Let’s visit the NCG Rules of Golf vault and consider this emailed tale of woe?
“I teed off on a par 3, it went in the hole – my first ever hole-in-one! But… I had placed my tee peg on the wrong side of the tee box marker so I didn’t play within the correct area.
“I put a three on the scorecard. Subsequently, I have tried to find the correct rules and I don’t think we did it correctly. Can you clarify please?
“I assume it no longer counts as a hole-in-one?”
Does this hole in one count?
I want to say this is the golf equivalent of a no-ball wicket – but a hole-in-one is much rarer so it’s got to be far more agonising.
What you do in a random friendly knock is up to you but if we’re playing ‘strict rules’, as James Bond would say, you’re very unlikely to be putting the ball on some sort of trophy plinth.
Rule 6.1b says a ball must be played from inside the teeing area and, in stroke play, the penalty for not doing this is two strokes.
Importantly, given our player simply put down a 3 on the card and moved on, that rule also says the mistake must be corrected by “playing a ball from inside the teeing area”.
The ball played from outside the teeing area is not in play. Rule 6.1b (2) also reveals “that stroke and any more strokes before the mistake is corrected (including strokes made and penalty strokes solely from playing that ball) do not count.”
What happens if the mistake is not corrected? Bad things. If it’s not fixed before a stroke is made to begin another hole or before returning the scorecard, if it’s the final hole of the round, then the player is disqualified.
That’s settled then? Well, not quite.
There is a way – albeit incredibly improbable – that this hole-in-one might still count and it would depend entirely on the format being played and the generosity of an opponent.
Rule 6.1b also says that, in match play, there is no penalty for playing a ball from outside the teeing area, but the opponent may cancel the stroke.
“If the opponent cancels the stroke, the player must play a ball from inside the teeing area and it is still his or her turn to play.”
“If the opponent does not cancel the stroke, the stroke counts and the ball is in play and must be played as it lies.”
In this case, it’s in the hole. So if the opponent allows it, in some unbelievable show of sportsmanship, it would be a hole-in-one.
Would you dash your mate’s dreams of recording their first ace? What is it to be? Loss of hole, or loss of drink? You decide.
Got a question for our expert?
Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, 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.
What do you think of these hole in one rules? Let me know by leaving a comment on X.
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