Rules of Golf explained: My ball struck a buggy and landed in a bunker – can I play it again?

Stumped by something you’ve seen out on the course? Our rules expert will find you the answers

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

Loyd Jones emailed this agonising tale: “During a round I was hitting my second shot from an adjacent fairway, after pulling my drive left.

“I hit a low punch shot to get back on my correct fairway. It was a blind shot to the green with water, so I was laying up.

“At the same time, a member of my group drove his buggy into the fairway. My ball struck his buggy and careened into a bunker.

“He required me to play it from the sand. I thought I got a free re-hit because it hit an object not a part of the course – similar to sprinkler control boxes. Who’s right?”

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

You can question his driving skills Loyd – it sounds like it was real-life pinball out there – but you can’t fault his rules knowledge.

Rule 11.1 applies here: ‘Ball in Motion Accidentally Hits Person or Outside Influence’.

His buggy – or ‘cart’ for our US pals – is an outside influence, which in this situation is defined in the Rules as “any natural or artificial object or anything else…except for natural forces”.

First up, the good news. There’s no penalty to any player. The sickener, for you, is that the ball must be played as it lies.

Unfair, isn’t it? You had a nice little lay up and now you’re trying to hack one out of a trap – those dreams of a save in tatters.

But those are the breaks.

Got a Rules of Golf question you need answering? Leave it in the comments, email me or tweet me.

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