No.21 Ball Unfit for Play

Question 1: During play of a hole a player notices that his ball is damaged. In which of the following circumstances may he replace it;
a) If it is cut (as in balls A and C in the photo).
b) If it is scuffed so that the brand and number cannot be read (as in ball B in the photo).
c) If it is out of shape.
a) Yes.
b) No.
c) Yes.

Rule 5-3 states that a ball is unfit for play if it is visibly cut, cracked or out of shape. A ball is not unfit for play solely because mud or other materials adhere to it, its surface is scratched or scraped or its paint is damaged or discoloured.

Question 2: On the first three holes a player has been using a regular hard ball for distance. On reaching the Par-3 4th he would like to play a soft, Balata ball (Ball D in the photo). Is this permitted?

Answer:  Yes, there is nothing in the Rules of Golf to prevent players changing the type or brand of ball they use between holes, providing the balls conform to the requirements specified in Appendix III.

Note: A player may also change their ball during play of a hole, providing the Rules permit them to play a ball other than their original ball (e.g. in taking relief from a water hazard).
Note: A Committee may require, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), that during a stipulated round, the balls a player plays must be of the same brand and model as detailed by a single entry on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls. issued by the Ruling Bodies. This 'one ball condition' is adopted for all Tour events but is unusual for regular Club and Society competitions.


Another 'Rhodes Rules School' Q&A will follow next week,

Good golfing,
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