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9
Ball Played as It Lies; Ball at Rest Lifted or Moved
Purpose: Rule 9 covers a central principle of the game: “play the ball as it lies.”
  • If the player’s ball comes to rest and is then moved by natural forces such as wind or water, the player normally must play it from its new spot.
  • If a ball at rest is lifted or moved by anyone or any outside influence before the stroke is made, the ball must be replaced on its original spot.
  • Players should take care when near any ball at rest, and a player who causes his or her own ball or an opponent’s ball to move will normally get a penalty (except on the putting green).
9
Ball Played as It Lies; Ball at Rest Lifted or Moved
9.1

Ball Played as It Lies

a

Playing Ball from Where It Came to Rest

A player’s ball at rest on the course must be played as it lies, except when the Rules require or allow the player:
  • To play a ball from another place on the course, or
  • To lift a ball and then replace it on its original spot.
b

What to Do When Ball Moves During Backswing or Stroke

If a player’s ball at rest begins moving after the player has begun the stroke or the backswing for a stroke and the player goes on to make the stroke:
  • The ball must not be replaced, no matter what caused it to move.
  • Instead, the player must play the ball from where it comes to rest after the stroke.
  • If the player caused the ball to move, see Rule 9.4b to find out if there is a penalty.
Penalty for Playing Incorrectly  Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.1: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a. If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).
9.2

Deciding Whether Ball Moved and What Caused It to Move

a

Deciding Whether Ball Moved

A player’s ball at rest is treated as having moved only if it is known or virtually certain that it did. If the ball might have moved but this is not known or virtually certain, it is treated as not having moved and must be played as it lies.
b

Deciding What Caused Ball to Move

When a player’s ball at rest has moved:
  • It must be decided what caused it to move.
  • This determines whether the player must replace the ball or play it as it lies and whether there is a penalty.
(1) Four Possible Causes. The Rules recognize only four possible causes for a ball at rest that moves before the player makes a stroke:
  • Natural forces, such as wind or water (see Rule 9.3),
  • The player, including the player’s caddie (see Rule 9.4),
  • The opponent in match play, including the opponent's caddie (see Rule 9.5), or
  • An outside influence, including any other player in stroke play (see Rule 9.6).
See Rules 22.2 (in Foursomes, either partner may act for the  side and action by the partner is treated as action of the player);  23.5 (in Four-Ball, either partner may act for the side and action by the partner concerning the player’s ball or equipment is treated as action of the player). (2) “Known or Virtually Certain” Standard for Deciding What Caused Ball to Move.
  • The player, the opponent or an outside influence is treated as having caused the ball to move only if it is known or virtually certain to be the cause.
  • If it is not known or virtually certain that at least one of these was the cause, the ball is treated as having been moved by natural forces.
In applying this standard, all reasonably available information must be considered, which means all information the player knows or can get with reasonable effort and without unreasonably delaying play.
9.3

Ball Moved by Natural Forces

If natural forces (such as wind or water) cause a player’s ball at rest to move:
  • There is no penalty, and
  • The ball must be played from its new spot.
Exception – Ball on Putting Green Must Be Replaced If It Moves After Having Already Been Lifted and Replaced (see Rule 13.1d): If the player’s ball on the putting green moves after the player had already lifted and replaced the ball on the spot from which it moved:
  • The ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).
  • This is true no matter what caused it to move (including natural forces).
Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.3: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a. If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).
9.4

Ball Lifted or Moved by Player

This Rule applies only when it is known or virtually certain that a player (including the player’s caddie) lifted his or her ball at rest or caused it to move.
a

When Lifted or Moved Ball Must Be Replaced

If the player lifts his or her ball at rest or causes it to move, the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2), except:
  • When the player lifts the ball under a Rule to take relief or to replace the ball on a different spot (see Rules 14.2d and 14.2e), or
  • When the ball moves only after the player has begun the stroke or the backswing for a stroke and then goes on to make the stroke (see Rule 9.1b).
b

Penalty for Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to Move

If the player lifts or deliberately touches his or her ball at rest or causes it to move, the player gets one penalty stroke. But there are four exceptions: Exception 1 – Player Allowed to Lift or Move Ball: There is no penalty when the player lifts the ball or causes it to move under a Rule that:
  • Allows the ball to be lifted and then replaced on its original spot,
  • Requires a moved ball to be replaced on its original spot, or
  • Requires or allows the player to drop or place a ball again or to play a ball from a different place.
Exception 2 – Accidental Movement Before Ball Is Found: There is no penalty when the player accidentally causes the ball to move while trying to find or identify it (see Rule 7.4). Exception 3 – Accidental Movement on Putting Green: There is no penalty when the player accidentally causes the ball to move on the putting green (see Rule 13.1d), no matter how that happens. Exception 4 – Accidental Movement Anywhere Except on Putting Green While Applying Rule: There is no penalty when the player accidentally causes the ball to move anywhere except on the putting green while taking reasonable actions to:
  • Mark the spot of the ball or lift or replace the ball, when allowed to do so (see Rules 14.1 and 14.2),
  • Remove a movable obstruction (see Rule 15.2),
  • Restore worsened conditions, when allowed to do so (see Rule 8.1d),
  • Take relief under a Rule, including in determining whether relief is available under a Rule (such as swinging a club to see if there is interference from a condition), or where to take relief (such as determining the nearest point of complete relief), or
  • Measure under a Rule (such as to decide the order of play under Rule 6.4).
Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.4: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a. If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).
9.5

Ball Lifted or Moved by Opponent in Match Play

This Rule applies only when it is known or virtually certain that the opponent (including the opponent's caddie) lifted a player’s ball at rest or caused it to move. If the opponent plays the player’s ball as a wrong ball, that is covered by Rule 6.3c(1), not by this Rule.
a

When Lifted or Moved Ball Must Be Replaced

If the opponent lifts or moves the player’s ball at rest, the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2), except:
  • When the opponent is conceding the next stroke, a hole or the match (see Rule 3.2b), or
  • When the opponent lifts or moves the ball at the player’s request because the player intends to apply a Rule to take relief or to replace the ball on a different spot.
b

Penalty for Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to Move

If the opponent lifts or deliberately touches the player’s ball at rest or causes it to move, the opponent gets one penalty stroke. But there are several exceptions: Exception 1 – Opponent Allowed to Lift Player’s Ball: There is no penalty when the opponent lifts the ball:
  • When conceding a stroke, a hole or the match to the player, or
  • At the player’s request.
Exception 2 – Marking and Lifting Player’s Ball on Putting Green by Mistake: There is no penalty when the opponent marks the spot of the player’s ball and lifts it on the putting green in the mistaken belief that it is the opponent's own ball. Exception 3 – Same Exceptions as for the Player: There is no penalty when the opponent accidentally causes the ball to move while taking any of the actions covered by Exceptions 2, 3 or 4 in Rule 9.4b. Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.5: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a. If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).
9.6

Ball Lifted or Moved by Outside Influence

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 known or virtually certain that the ball was lifted or moved by an outside influence and the ball is lost, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 18.2. If the player’s ball is played as a wrong ball by another player, that is covered by Rule 6.3c(2), not by this Rule. Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.6: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a. If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).
9.7

Ball-Marker Lifted or Moved

This Rule covers what to do if a ball-marker that is marking the spot of a lifted ball is lifted or moved before the ball is replaced.
a

Ball or Ball-Marker Must Be Replaced

If a player’s ball-marker is lifted or moved in any way (including by natural forces) before the ball is replaced, the player must either:
  • Replace the ball on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2), or
  • Place a ball-marker to mark that original spot.
b

Penalty for Lifting Ball-Marker or Causing It to Move

If the player, or his or her opponent in match play, lifts the player’s ball-marker or causes it to move (when the ball is lifted and not yet replaced),the player or opponent gets one penalty stroke. Exception – Rule 9.4b and 9.5b Exceptions Apply to Lifting Ball-Marker or Causing It to Move: In all cases where the player or opponent gets no penalty for lifting the player’s ball or accidentally causing it to move, there is also no penalty for lifting or accidentally moving the player’s ball-marker. Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.7: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a. If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).
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