QMy course has a number of greenside air circulation fans. During the summer, they run all day long. I was playing a round of golf when my friend's ball was blown a few inches away while on the putting green. What's the ruling? - Chris (Murrells Inlet)
AInteresting question, Chris.
First, let's define an outside agency:
Match Play - Any agency other than either the player's or opponent's side, any caddie of either side, any ball played by either side at the hole being played or any equipment of either side.
Stroke play - Any agency other than the competitor's side, any caddie of the side, any ball played by the side at the hole being played or any equipment of the side.
An outside agency includes a referee, a marker, an observer and a forecaddie. Neither wind nor water is an outside agency.
The air being propelled by the circulation fan isn't exactly wind since it's artificial. Decision 18-1/2 concurs and states that such air is considered to be an outside agency. If the ball was at rest, and it was a matter of fact that the circulation fan caused the ball to move, Rule 18-1 "Ball at Rest Moved by Outside Agency" would apply, and the ball must be replaced without penalty. The ruling would be the same if sprinkler heads started blasting water and caused a ball at rest to move.