When Your Golf Ball is Moved, Deflected or Stopped by Outside Influences

Outside Influences in Golf

What happens when your golf ball at rest is caused to move? For example, after you landed your ball on the fairway, a dog came running across kicking your ball at rest from its original position. What do the Rules of Golf have in place in instances such as this one? How about when your golf ball in motion hits an object and gets stopped or deflected from its expected path? Let’s find out.

Outside influence

In golf, outside influence, previously known as “outside agency,” is a phrase that refers to things that cause your golf ball at rest to move. The same phrase is also used to describe the things that cause your moving golf ball to deflect or stop moving.

Counted as outside influence

What qualifies as outside influence include a match referee, a marker (when the marker is not your partner or your opponent), an observer, a forecaddie.

To help us understand more of what counts as outside influence based on its definition and scope in the Rules of Golf, let’s enumerate some more.

  • Any animal – the following may sound hilarious, but they do happen. Like,
    • A dog that scoops up or kicks away your ball
    • A bird that flies away with your ball
    • A squirrel that deflects your ball
  • People
    • Spectators
    • Golf course’s greenkeeping staff
  • Objects – any natural or artificial object
    • A stray golf ball that came flying in played from other hole
    • Objects being blown by the wind that then hit your ball

Not counted as outside influence

Not all that causes your golf ball to move is counted as an outside influence. There are exceptions to this which include but are not limited to:

  • People
    • You, your partner, your opponent, your caddies, any of your opponent’s caddies
  • Object
    • Equipment of any people listed above
  • Natural forces
    • Wind, water.

The rules and penalty

So when the ball is caused to move by an outside influence, what now? There are specific rules in golf where outside influence is very prominent:

  • Rule 9.6 – Ball Lifted or Moved by Outside Influence
  • Rule 11.1 – Your Ball In Motion Accidentally Hits Person or Outside Influence

No penalty is given to a player whose golf ball is moved by an outside influence between these rules. The only difference is that under rule 9.6 the moved ball has to be replaced back to its original position (or to an estimated position in case the original position is not certain), while under rule 11.1 the deflected ball should be played where it lies after it hits an outside influence.

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