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Ask For a Ruling with Cory Armstrong (Feb. 4)

Q The other day, I was playing golf with my friend. We were pretty far apart on the putting green, and my ball was farthest from the hole. Unfortunately, my friend didn't realize (or didn't care) that my ball was rolling toward the hole when he hit his putt, and the balls collided. If we were in a tournament, what would have been the ruling?

- William (Rutherfordton, N.C.)

A I sure hope your ball wasn't about to roll into the hole when your buddy decided to break out a game of marbles. We'll have to reference three Rules with this one.

First, Rule 16-1f "Putting Green; Making Stroke While Another Ball in Motion" says, "The player must not make a stroke while another ball is in motion after a stroke from the putting green, except that if a player does so, there is no penalty if it was his turn to play." So, since it was your turn to play, your friend would've instantly lost the hole in match play, even if the balls did not collide. In stroke play, he'd have received a penalty of two strokes, but we would still have had to figure out what to do next. Should you have played the balls from where they ended up or replayed the strokes?

Since we're now dealing with stroke play only, we must remember that in this form of play each of you and your golf balls are outside agencies in relation to one another. The Exception to Rule 19-5b "Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped by Another Ball in Motion" explains that if a player's ball is in motion after a stroke on the putting green and the other ball in motion is an outside agency, we should see Rule 19-1 "Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped by Outside Agency."

Item 'b' to this Rule says, "If a player's ball in motion after a stroke on the putting green is deflected or stopped by, or comes to rest in or on, any moving or animate outside agency, except a worm, insect, or the like, the stroke is canceled. The ball must be replaced and replayed."

Depending on where your golf balls were heading, it's either good or bad luck for the both of you. You both must replay the stroke. Still, tell your friend to be a little more patient next time. We do play golf for relaxation, right?