Did you know about this rule when you're searching for your ball?

Take a closer look at what you can and can't do when attempting to identify your golf ball...

Andy Roberts's picture
Mon, 27 Jan 2020
Did you know about this rule when you're searching for your ball?

Every Monday morning we typically receive a handful of golf rule queries and frustrations from GolfMagic readers following their rounds over the weekend, and this morning was no different as we picked up a message surrounding the issue of identifying a golf ball in the sand. 

Sadly for one of our GolfMagic readers Barry, the ruling would lead to a disastrous two-stroke penalty that cost him victory by one stroke in his tournament on Sunday. 

When it comes to the new rules of golf set out by the R&A, the purpose of Rule 7 - Ball Search: Finding and Identifying Ball - is to allow the player to take reasonable actions to fairly search for his or her golf ball in play after each stroke. 

However, the player must still remain careful while searching for their ball as a penalty will apply if the player acts excessively and causes improvement to the conditions affecting his or her next stroke. 

The player receives no penalty if the ball is accidentally moved in trying to find or identify it, but must then replace the ball on its original spot.

In the case of our man Barry, he fell foul of Rule 7.1b when identifying his ball in a plugged lie in the greenside bunker. 


After 60 seconds of searching for his ball in and around the bunker, surrounded by dense rough, Barry saw some white dimples sticking out of the sand in the face of the bunker. Sadly for him, the lie was that bad it was not clearly visible. 

"The lie was so bad I wasn't even sure it was a golf ball at first, it looked like a stone sticking out the sand," said Barry, who then proceeded to brush off nearly half of the sand covering his ball and moved his ball slightly to identify his ball. 

Barry spotted his TaylorMade TP5 logo and his black Sharpie line on the side of the ball, and then told his playing partners that he had found the ball. 

His playing partners backed away to let him play the shot, but what Barry forgot to immediately do was re-create the lie as he initially found his ball.


According to Rule 7.1b:

> The player must re-create the original lie in the sand, but may leave a small part of the ball visible if the ball had been covered by sand.

> If the player plays the ball without having re-created the original lie, the player gets the general penalty (loss of hole in matchplay or two strokes in strokeplay).

"I can't believe I didn't re-create my lie after having identified it was my ball," said Barry.

"I knew about this type of rule, espcially after seeing all the stuff about Patrick Reed in the waste bunker recently, but I was caught up in the moment. I was just so pleased to have found my ball as I thought it was lost and just got on with the shot after identifying it was mine.

"It cost me the win so I'm really annoyed. I won't be making this mistake again I know that."

As a result, it led to a two-stroke penalty when he discussed the issue with his playing partners and realised exactly what he had done after the completion of the hole. Unfortunately his bogey-five resulted in a costly triple-bogey seven and he would lose the tournament by one stroke. 

For more information about the rules of golf, please visit the R&A website.