I received a comment on Marking, Lifting and Cleaning your ball, which relates to the wording of Rule 14.1c:
‘If the player cleans a lifted ball when not allowed, he or she gets one penalty stroke’.
The comment was:
‘So, this means a player can DELIBERATELY clean their ball for a one-shot penalty?
I am thinking of recent tournaments where many mud balls veered off-line. (With a 2 /3 shot lead and playing your second shot from 200yards on the last hole over water, it would be sensible to deliberately clean your ball !!!!)’.
Well, this is not quite true!
You may be forgiven for thinking it, but I would go no further than that unless you want to be tarred with the same brush as Phil Mickelson or Patrick Reed and have members think twice before playing with you or have your Club banning you from competitions.
In the first place you must have a good reason for lifting your ball and you can only lift a ball under a Rule of Golf.
So, if you have no legitimate reason to lift your ball you will incur a 1-stroke penalty for that on top of your 1-stroke penalty for cleaning the ball.
But, if you felt you had a good reason to lift your ball, you are still deliberately breaching a Rule of Golf for your own advantage and gaining an advantage over your fellow competitors.
Which brings me on to the real reasons why you should not even contemplate cleaning your ball when it is not allowed.
- The central principles of the game of golf for a player are:
- Play the course as you find it and play the ball as it lies.
- Play by the Rules and in the spirit of the game.
- You are responsible for applying your own penalties if you breach a Rule, so that you cannot gain any potential advantage over your opponent in match play or other players in stroke play.
- All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by following certain advice and this includes:
- Acting with integrity – for example, by following the Rules, applying all penalties, and being honest in all aspects of play.
Something that we all sign-up to when we book a tee-time or enter a competition
Note: There are exceptions where the Rules allow the player to alter conditions on the course and require or allow the player to play the ball from a different place than where it lies, and these are set out quite clearly in the Rules of Golf.
There is no penalty under the Rules for failing to act against the spirit of the game in this way, except that the Committee may disqualify a player for acting contrary to the spirit of the game if it finds that the player has committed serious misconduct.
The meaning of Serious Misconduct is dealt with under Interpretation 1.2a/1:
The phrase “serious misconduct” in Rule 1.2a is intended to cover player misconduct that is so far removed from the expected norm in golf that the most severe sanction of removing a player from the competition is justified. This includes dishonesty, deliberately interfering with another player’s rights, or endangering the safety of others.
The Committee must determine if the misconduct is serious considering all the circumstances. Even if the Committee determines that the misconduct is serious, it may take the view that it is more appropriate to warn the player that a repeat of the misconduct or similar misconduct will result in disqualification, instead of disqualifying him or her in the first instance.
There are several examples of actions by a player that are likely to be considered serious misconduct included amongst them is:
- Deliberately not playing in accordance with the Rules and potentially gaining a significant advantage by doing so, despite incurring a penalty for a breach of the relevant Rule.
Penalties other than disqualification may be imposed for player misconduct only if those penalties are adopted as part of a Code of Conduct under Rule 1.2b
An action that may be considered as a compromise when dealing with a ‘Mud Ball’, is that, when replacing your ball, there is no requirement to place it back in the same orientation.
It must be placed back in the same position horizontally and vertically, but it can be rotated so that your club will not strike the mud on the ball.
What you are not allowed to do is place the ball with the mud downwards, (acting as a tee-peg) this would raise the position of the ball vertically from its original position, the ball not being placed in its original position.
But this action still depends upon your lifting of the ball being legitimate under a Rule of Golf in the first place.
Enjoy your golf but play fair with your fellow golfers.