Playing a wrong ball Part 1


I have been receiving weekly newsletters by Paul Kruger, PGA, The Landings Club, Savannah, GA, and one of his postings is about playing a wrong ball.

During our games last weekend, there were two incidents and I would like to tackle this in totality by referring to the newsletter.

Rather than write a similar article from scratch, I have obtained Paul’s permission to copy his article about playing a wrong ball, in full and without change.


Per Rule 15-3 -Wrong Ball, the penalty for playing a wrong ball is loss of hole in match-play and two strokes in stroke play.

One of the most demoralising penalties one can incur is that of playing a wrong ball.

Why? Because Rule 12-2, Lifting Ball for Identification, gives you the authority to identify your ball anywhere on the course.


Thanks to this Rule, you can be absolutely sure you are playing your own ball, thereby avoiding the ignominy of playing a stray ball or someone else’s ball in play by mistake.

To assist you in identifying your ball, Rule 12-2 recommends that you should put an identification mark on your ball.

As long as you are sure that you are about to play your own ball, what could possibly go wrong?

Believe it or not, under certain circumstances, you can be penalised for playing a wrong ball despite the fact that you have played your own ball!

Strange as that may seem, consider the following:

In match-play, if you are doubtful of your rights or the correct procedure to follow when taking relief, you must resist any temptation to play a second ball.

Playing a second ball under Rule 3-3, Doubt As To Procedure, is restricted to stroke play only!

According to Decision 3-3/9, Second Ball Played in Match Play, if you play a second ball in match-play, you will be incur a loss of hole penalty for playing a wrong ball.

If you mark and lift your ball on a putting green and then set it aside, you must remember to replace your ball before playing your next stroke with that ball.

Per Decision 15/4, Player Lifts Ball, Sets It Aside and Plays It from Where Set Aside, when you lift the ball pursuant to Rule 20-1, Lifting and Marking, that ball is out of play.

The Definition of Ball in Play advises that a ball in play is no longer in play when it is lifted.

If you then make a stroke with your ball while it is out of play, you will have played a wrong ball.

The Definition of Wrong Ball states, in part, “A ‘wrong ball’ … includes … the player’s original ball when it is no longer in play.”

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