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Golf Monthly - - Shane Lowry -

hona McRae, R&A as­sis­tant direc­tor – Rules, was right on hand to as­sist Ly­dia Ko with a rul­ing when a spec­ta­tor picked up her ball dur­ing the women’s Olympic golf event…

Not only did Ly­dia Ko and Justin Rose both ex­pe­ri­ence the highs of an Olympic hole-in-one and col­lect­ing an Olympic medal, but both also fell vic­tim to spec­ta­tors pick­ing up their balls dur­ing the Olympic golf events in Rio de Janeiro.

En­thu­si­as­tic spec­ta­tors lined the fair­ways for both the men’s and ladies’ golf at the Olympic course within the Mara­pendi re­serve in Barra da Ti­juca this Au­gust to wit­ness the bat­tle for gold, sil­ver and bronze. When Rose’s tee shot on the 2nd hole in the fi­nal round of the men’s com­pe­ti­tion came to rest out­side the ropes and was

Spicked up by an ex­cited spec­ta­tor ea­ger to get a good look at the ball, there was no penalty to Rose as it had been moved by an out­side agency.

A spec­ta­tor is an out­side agency as they are not part of the com­peti­tor’s side. How­ever, it is not per­mis­si­ble to just as­sume that an out­side agency has lifted or moved the ball – there needs to be some ev­i­dence to con­firm this. With TV footage and many wit­nesses around to con­firm that the lady had in­deed picked up the ball, Rose was en­ti­tled to pro­ceed un­der Rule 18-1 and re­place the ball with­out penalty.

How­ever, in or­der to re­place the ball, you must know the spot on which to re­place it. If it is im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine the spot where the ball is to be re­placed, then, through the green, the ball must be dropped as near as pos­si­ble to the place where it lay (Rule 20-3c). Rose, there­fore, had to drop his ball to get it back into play in ac­cor­dance with the Rules.

Ko had the same is­sue on the 18th hole dur­ing the fi­nal round of the women’s golf event. In con­tention for the sil­ver medal, Ko had to re­place her ball when a young spec­ta­tor picked it up af­ter it came to rest in the watch­ing crowd left of the 18th green.

Usu­ally in these cir­cum­stances – and as was the case with Rose – the spot where the ball is to be re­placed is not de­ter­minable and the ball is dropped to get it back into play. How­ever, in Ko’s case, a wit­ness was able to point to the ex­act spot where the ball lay before it was picked up.

As a re­sult, Ko was able to re­place the ball by plac­ing it on the spot from which it was lifted by the young boy to get her ball back in to play (Rule 20-3a).

The R&A’s Shona McRae (in pink) as­sists Ly­dia Ko with a rul­ing in the Olympics

An out­side agency is some­thing that is not part of the com­peti­tor’s side, cad­die or equip­ment

If a ball at rest is moved by an out­side agency, there is no penalty and it must be re­placed

To ap­ply Rule 18-1, you must know, or have ev­i­dence, that an out­side agency moved the ball

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