30. When to Replace Ball that Moves on the Putting Green

: If a players ball on the putting green moves before the stroke is made: 

The player must replace the ball if it was moved by any player, caddie or outside agency (such as an animal, spectator or moving object).


  But the moved ball must always be played from its new spot if the ball was moved by wind, water or other natural forces (including when the ball moves for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity).


Proposed Rule: New Rule 13.1c, would revise the procedure for when a ball on the putting green is moved by wind, water or other natural forces, so that it must sometimes be replaced and sometimes be played from its new spot:


  If the ball had been lifted and replaced on its original spot before it moved, the ball must always be replaced on its original spot, regardless of what caused it to move.


  The ball must be played from its new spot only if the ball had not been lifted and replaced before it moved.


Reasons for Change


  When a ball at rest is moved by natural forces such as the wind, it is normally played as it lies because its movement is considered a continuation of the previous stroke, as no person or object has affected where the ball lies.


  But when the moved ball had already been lifted and replaced, the connection to the previous stroke is no longer obvious.  


  This is especially true on the putting green, where a player is allowed to mark, lift and replace a ball for any reason and many players do so as a matter of course. 


o   It can be difficult to determine whether a person or object caused the ball to move or whether it was moved by wind or other natural causes.


o   It would simplify the Rules to provide that a ball always must be replaced if it moves from a spot where it had already been lifted and replaced.


  When a ball on the green moves after having come to rest:


o   It can result in outcomes that seem unfair, such as when the ball rolls off the green (sometimes ending up in a bunker or in water) or rolls close to or into the hole.


o   Requiring the ball to be replaced if it had already been lifted and replaced would eliminate such outcomes in those situations.


  This Rule change may also be helpful in conditions of very high wind on the course, as it may allow play to continue in conditions where it might otherwise not be possible or fair because too many balls are being blown from their spot on the green.

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