QUESTION: Connie and Howie are playing in a tournament. On the 14th hole, Connie’s ball rests on the green. Close to the ball is a twig (loose impediment). Connie removes the twig, but in the process of removal, she accidentally moves the ball with her foot.
She says there is no penalty if the ball is moved on the putting green in the process of removal (Rule 23-1). Howie says she is wrong. There is a one stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced.
Is Howie correct?
ANSWER: Howard knows that Rule 23-1 states that the player suffers no penalty if the ball is accidentally moved in the process of direct removal of a loose impediment on the putting green. However, the moving of the ball must be directly attributable to the removal of the loose impediment. Clearly, the removal of the loose impediment did not cause the ball to move. Her foot caused the ball to move. Howie is correct. See USGA Decisions on the Rules of Golf, 2016-2017, 23-1/11.
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