How should you proceed when a bird or any other animal takes your golf ball?
I’d just come off a birdie and was thinking I had a chance to save a bad round. I nailed a drive straight down the middle of the fairway. It couldn’t have been more middle.
But the golf ball was nowhere to be seen.
There were crows flying low over the fairway like a scene from The Birds. I’d seen them take golf balls before but I had no idea why or what they do with them. On this occasion, it felt like a deliberate act to ruin my scorecard.
Was there any chance I could play another? Get a drop? Anything? Surely?
Nope. I needed to see it happen.
Rule 19-1 states that;
“If a ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies…”
And Rule 18-1 covers the ball at rest situation:
“If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.
Note: It is a question of fact whether a ball has been moved by an outside agency. In order to apply this Rule, it must be known or virtually certain that an outside agency has moved the ball. In the absence of such knowledge or certainty, the player must play the ball as it lies or, if the ball is not found, proceed under Rule 27-1.”
Barry Rhodes summed it up; “Someone has to witness the ball being lifted by the outside agency for that Rule to apply. Otherwise, it’s stroke and distance penalty for a lost ball.”
This goes for all animals who find the need to make the game harder for us than it already is.
In truth, I didn’t deserve to rescue that round.
It was a bad one that was almost rescued by a two or three good holes, but I felt robbed all the same.
When a fellow competitor in the group behind lost his ball in exactly the same spot ten minutes later, we could both share the anger. We both agreed it must have been a crow.
We didn’t see it happen though, so we had no grounds for a free drop.