"Hey, the Wind Moved My Ball!"
You may have had an opportunity to watch Billy Horschel’s ball get moved by the wind on the 15th green at the Masters last week. He was not too happy with the Officials. However, the Rules of Golf were properly enforced. As we say, “We don’t write them, we just enforce them.”
What are the Rules that affect our actions and what do we do when it happens to us?
First of all, we start where we always begin; a definition. The definition of Move or Moved is: “A ball is deemed to have ‘moved’ if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place.” If a ball simply oscillates, it has not moved according to the Rules of Golf.
Generally, Rule 18 deals with a ball in play and at rest that is moved. However, there are some elements that cause a ball in play and at rest to move that are not covered under Rule 18; such as wind.
Wind is especially excluded from the definition of “outside agency”. Wind is more of an “inside agency” and is similar to gravity. It is very much a part of the game just as luck is as well.
There is another Rule that comes into play with this situation. Rule 20-4 states “If a player’s ball has been lifted, it is again in play when it is dropped or placed.”
When Horschel replaced his ball on the putting green, it was once again in play; regardless if he removed the ball marker or not. Anything that happens after that and before the player makes a stroke at the ball is considered to be a continuation of his last stroke.
So what do you do if it moves?Here’s the answer. You play the ball from its new position without penalty or proceed under the Rules, as long as you are sure it was the wind that caused it to move. If the wind blows your ball into the hole, you are deemed to have holed out with your last stroke. If the wind blows it off the green and into a water hazard or out of bounds, you may proceed under any of the options of Rule 26 (Water Hazard Rule), such as Horschel did, or you must proceed under Rule 27 (Out of Bounds Rule).
Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.