The Rules Geek: Bad Behavior Down Under?

Editor’s note: The Rules Geek is an occasional and potentially annoying feature at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

AN AUSSIE READER WRITES: Yesterday I was playing in a fourball matchplay event against an opponent well known for his gamesmanship. Talking loudly on the tee while you are preparing to hit is commonplace. At the first tee we identified our balls. I was hitting a Titleist 3 while he was hitting a Titleist 2. He made a big point of saying he always hits a 2 and never a 3.


The Rules Geek: Bad Behavior Down Under? 1As the match progressed and his side fell behind, the antics increased. With my side leading 2 up with 3 to play we hit off the 16th tee, an uphill tee shot. I hit my shot and didn’t see exactly where it finished although it was in the fairway. He hit his tee shot into a similar area. He was riding in a cart and raced to check which ball was which. He announced that my ball was the farthest from the pin.

I took this at face value and paced out my distance and took a couple of practice swings before addressing the ball. I decided to check the ball and found it was the Titleist 2 and then checked the ball about 10 metres farther ahead and it was my ball—the Titleist 3.

To say the least, I was not impressed by this turn of events. I advised him that the ball was his, trying to remain composed. He played his shot to the front of the green about 25 feet from the hole. I chunked my approach to about 50 metres out. I managed to play a career lob wedge to a tight pin over a bunker to less than a foot to halve the hole. My side managed to win the match at the next hole.

Does his announcement, after checking the ball, that the ball belonged to me constitute “wrong information” under 9-2b?

[The Rules Geek sez: Rule 9-2b Wrong Information pertains to two main issues: failure to inform about incurring a penalty and incorrect information about number of strokes taken.]

If it does, a challenge at that point would have ruled him out of the hole with his partner still alive. If I had played the shot, would I have infringed the “wrong ball” rule or under equity would I have been entitled to replay my shot?

[The Rules Geek sez: Rule 15-3A Wrong Ball, which pertains to match play, states, “If a player makes a stroke at a wrong ball, he loses the hole.” So it’s good that you checked the ball before hitting it.]

This incident raises so many questions but it also leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

The Rules Geek: Bad Behavior Down Under? 2A followup message from the reader: I have lodged a complaint about his behaviour with the Captain. I accept that wrong information does not apply to the circumstances outlined being largely applicable to the number of strokes taken. The applicability of the rules of etiquette are applicable however. Although the behaviour would be sufficient in my view to warrant disqualification, there was no match referee on hand to make such a judgement.

[The Rules Geek sez: A breach of etiquette must be serious to warrant disqualification. Does this player’s gamesmanship and annoying antics cross the threshold?]

The Rules Geek sez rules were made to be followed. Got a rules-related tip or story? Send it to The Rules Geek at

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Neil Sagebiel

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