Rule of the Week
Nov 14, 2019

We're going to dive into the pro ranks again for this edition of the rule of the week.

Last week we detailed an unfortunate incident on the LPGA Q-Series, this week we investigate an incident at the PGA Tour Champions Schwab Cup Championship. Billy Mayfair opened the event with a sparkling round of six-under, 66 but his second round wasn't as clean. In fact a pair of Rules violation led to the veteran player's disqualification from the event.
After hitting his ball into the rough on a par 5, the 11th hole at Sherwood Country Club Mayfair used the assistance of his playing partner, his caddie, and spectators to find his ball. He thought he found it and hit it within the three-minute allotment. Before striking his ball he asked a Referee if the ball was embedded, it was deemed not to be. Mayfair carded a seven, a double bogey on the hole.
He rebounded and posted five straight pars before complications on the 17th hole.

Laying on a severe upslope in grass about four inches long Mayfair put his 60-degree wedge behind the ball, it moved, about half a foot. Mayfair believed he didn't cause his ball to move, the television crew felt differently. He finished the hole with a bogey four.


Mayfair was confronted by a referee following the round, once questioned about the time of his search on the 11th hole, he was then interrogated for the ball movement on hole 17. He admitted his actions moved the ball causing a two-stroke penalty.


After posting a 76 during Saturday's round Mayfair realized he needed to go low in Sunday to be a factor. He never got the chance; Mayfair was informed by Rules officials the search for his ball on hole 11 took 4:50 seconds. He was disqualified.


Remember under the 2019 Rules:


-In 2019, you are allowed three minutes to search for a ball. Upon further review, Mayfair took somewhere between four to just under five minutes to find his ball.

-When he played the ball, it was not his ball in play but a wrong ball under Rule 6.3c (Wrong Ball). After completing the hole and not correcting the mistake, Mayfair was disqualified on the tee shot on the 12th hole. Any additional penalties on other holes were irrelevant.  


Rule 6-3c Wrong Ball

 (1) Making Stroke at Wrong Ball. A player must not make a stroke at a wrong ball.

Exception - Ball Moving in Water
: There is no penalty if a player makes a stroke at a wrong ball that is moving in water in a penalty area or in temporary water:

·         The stroke does not count, and

·         The player must correct the mistake under the Rules by playing the right ball from its original spot or by taking relief under the Rules.


Penalty for Playing  Wrong Ball  in Breach of Rule 6.3c(1):  General Penalty

In Stroke Play


In stroke play, the player must correct the mistake by continuing play with the original ball by playing it as it lies or taking relief under the Rules:

·         The stroke made with the wrong ball and any more strokes before the mistake is corrected (including strokes made and any penalty strokes solely from playing that ball) do not count.

·         If the player does not correct the mistake before making a stroke to begin another hole or, for the final hole of the round, before returning his or her scorecard, the player is disqualified.

The second Rules infraction on 17th may also be concerning, because he stated, "he did not cause the ball to move, and then retracted it later saying he did." Under Rule 9.4b is where we find the ruling if Hole 11 didn't happen first.

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.

b. Penalty for Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to MoveIf 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: and you can review them here.


Overall, Mayfair may what to do a quick refresher on the new code and prepare for his next event.

Have a Rules of Golf question? Send it to and we will use it for a future feature.

Happy golfing and remember the Rules of Golf matter!
About Golf Saskatchewan
As the governing body of amateur golf in Saskatchewan, our mission is to grow participation in, and passion for golf while upholding the integrity of the game.


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Authored by Brian Lee, Executive Director of Golf SK

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