Another one from Australia.
We have had very wet conditions on our course and today one of our players hit her ball from off the green into the hole where it became embedded in the wall of the hole. The ball was not fully below the surface of the green and was not touching the flag.
We were playing Stableford and she considered she had holed out, therefore lifting her ball.
The women in her group were not sure whether she had proceeded correctly.
We know that the ball was not holed, but how should the player have proceeded?
In order to be considered “holed,” the ball must be below the level of the lip of the hole [Definition of “Holed”]. If a ball is embedded in the side of a hole, and part of the ball is above the hole, it cannot be considered holed.
The player may play the ball as it lies, although that would not be my recommendation, since you can’t be certain you will be able to dislodge an embedded ball with a short swing.
The safer procedure would be as follows:
The player may lift (and clean) the ball, since it is technically on the putting green [Rule 16-1b]. She may then repair the ball mark, since you are always permitted to repair damage to the green caused by the impact of a ball [Rule 16-1c]. Her next step would be to place the ball on the lip of the hole and putt it into the hole [Decision 16/3].
If the ball had embedded in the side of the hole and the whole ball were below the level of the lip, then it would have been considered to be holed [Decision 16/2].
The other issue here is whether the player would be disqualified. In a Stableford competition, if a player records a score that is lower than she actually took, she would be disqualified unless the score did not affect the result of the hole. In other words, if the fixed score at the hole in question were 5, and the player recorded an 8 (which would have been a 9 had she proceeded correctly), there is no penalty, since no points are earned for scoring 3 over the fixed score. However, if she recorded a 5 (which would have been a 6 had she proceeded correctly), she would be disqualified [Rule 32-2a, referencing rule 6-6d].
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