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Ball in Motion Stopped or Deflected
Dealing With Interference

Learn the rule and procedure for how to handle a ball deflected or stopped by an outside agency. Deflected by an Outside Agency

As I'm sure you know by now, anything can happen in a round of golf. In any give round there is both good luck and bad luck. There are good bounces and kicks and some unfortunate bounces and kicks. Whether a bird swoops down and picks up your ball or an alligator carries it away, there is a rule for everything. While the rules are lengthy and somewhat complicated, they are there to help you and keep the game fair.

Rule 19 in the USGA rules book is no exception when it comes to being long. This rule covers the situation when a ball in motion is stopped or deflected. Other than wildlife there are other players, equipment, caddies, grounds crew workers, spectators, golf carts, other balls and so on that can interfere with the flight of a ball. Rule 19 covers each of these in detail.

Rub of the Green

If you've been playing for some time you've heard the term "rub of the green." It's basically a term that says "tough cookies, too bad for you, suck it up and move on." It's when some outside agency affects your ball and there's really nothing you can do about it. You will see here in USGA Rule 19 that it is a big part of determining what to do if your ball is affected by an outside agency:

"19-1. By Outside Agency
If a player's ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there

is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, except:

a. If a player's ball in motion after a stroke other than on the putting green comes to rest in or on any moving or

animate outside agency, the ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as

near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest in or on the outside agency, but not

nearer the hole, and

b. 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.

If the ball is not immediately recoverable, another ball may be substituted.

Exception: Ball striking person attending or holding up flagstick or anything carried by him - see Rule 17-3b.

Note: If a player's ball in motion has been deliberately deflected or stopped by an outside agency:

(a) after a stroke from anywhere other than on the putting green, the spot where the ball would have come to rest must be

estimated. If that spot is:

(i) through the green or in a hazard, the ball must be dropped as near as possible to that spot;
(ii) out of bounds, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1; or
(iii) on the putting green, the ball must be placed on that spot.
(b) after a stroke on the putting green, the stroke is canceled. The ball must be replaced and replayed.

If the outside agency is a fellow-competitor or his caddie, Rule 1-2 applies to the fellow-competitor."

So basically, for most things other than another player, competitor, his caddie, someones equipment or another ball, it's rub of the green. So if your ball hits a lawnmower or greenskeeper, you play it as it lies. If it comes to rest on his mower, you obviously get a drop. If your ball is rolling on the green however, and hits the greenskeeper or mower, the stroke is cancelled and you get to replay the shot.

You Are Responsible For Your Team & Your Equipment

The next part of the rule is where you want to pay close attention because it is where you will receive a one stroke penalty. This pertains basically to you, your group and the equipment being used in your group. You are basically responsible for not hitting yourself or your equipment, but also for not hitting your partner or his equipment. Check out 19-2:

"19-2. By Player, Partner, Caddie Or Equipment
If a player's ball is accidentally deflected or stopped by himself, his partner or either of their caddies or equipment, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke. The ball must be played as it lies, except when it comes to rest in or on the player's, his partner's or either of their caddies' clothes or equipment, in which case the ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest in or on the article, but not nearer the hole.

Exceptions:
1. Ball striking person attending or holding up flagstick or anything carried by him - see Rule 17-3b.
2. Dropped ball - see Rule 20-2a.

(Ball purposely deflected or stopped by player, partner or caddie - see Rule 1-2)"

When you read further down Rule 19 you will see that it's not penalizing if it's your opponent in match play or another ball. To save room here in this article I am not posting those sections of the rule.

If you take a moment to refresh your knowledge of Rule 19 it could not only save you a penalty stroke, but help speed up play as you will know the proper procedures to take should your ball be deflected or stopped while in motion. I believe the most important thing to note is that you should always make sure everything and everyone is out of the way of the possible flight of the ball. Obviously this is not always possible with spectators and such, but for grounds crew workers and other players on the course you can simply wait until they have cleared out of the way. If your opponent or caddy goes ahead of you or places their equipment in your way, make sure to request politely that they move it because you don't want to take a chance and hit it. Besides that, it could be distracting your view to the flag. Knowing the rules and your rights on the course can not only save you a stroke or two, but it can also eliminate a lot of wasted time spent debating on procedure.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
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