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 as I came over the rise in the fairway, the golf ball was nowhere to be found.
Crows were flying low like a scene from The Birds. I’d seen them take golf balls before and they were the most likely culprit. On this occasion, it felt like a deliberate act to ruin my scorecard.
But what is the ruling here? I hadn’t actually seen any bird take anything let alone my golf ball.
It turns out you need to actually see, or be virtually certain that a bird (or any outside agency) moves or takes your golf ball.
Rule 9.6 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Outside Influence) states that;
If it is known or virtually certain that an outside influence (including another player in stroke play or another ball) lifted or moved a player’s ball:
- There is no penalty, and
- The ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).
This applies whether or not the player’s ball has been found.
But if it is not Rule 18.2.that the ball was lifted or by an and the ball is , the player must take relief under
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.