If I hit my ball with the flagstick by mistake, what should be done according to the rules?

April 6, 2024

As amateur golfers, we often neglect to strictly adhere to the Rules of Golf. However, during select occasions such as club championships or qualifiers, along with money games played against overly meticulous friends who abide by all regulations; you may find yourself in a peculiar rules scenario and ask “What is the appropriate ruling here?”

It’s not a criticism, just an observation. Since none of us will be competing in the U.S. Open anytime soon, it can often be beneficial to play everything as a lateral hazard during your Saturday morning game. It also adds more enjoyment for everyone when every two-footer is considered “good.” Additionally, asking if dropping at a particular spot is acceptable and having agreement from all group members helps maintain positive vibes throughout the day.

However, during times of genuine competition, possessing some knowledge of rules that others in the foursome may lack can be beneficial. For example, when your ball unintentionally strikes the flagstick.

Imagine this scenario: You’re playing in a qualifier, along with two other players and no caddies. One player prefers to putt with the flagstick out while the other likes it in. This can result in Player C having to tend the flagstick for one player and put it back for another during their turns. Amidst all of these changes, Player A unintentionally hits their ball into motion which accidentally collides with the flagstick tended by Player C – creating chaos on what next action should be taken.

If a player’s ball in motion unintentionally hits the flagstick being attended to by the removing player, Rule 13.2b is applicable and no penalty shall be imposed. The ball must be played as it lies according to this rule. It is recommended that your group comes to an agreement on whether or not it was accidental; however, if necessary, a Rules official has final authority in making that determination.

Similarly, if a ball in movement inadvertently collides with a flagstick resting on the green and it was not intentionally positioned to block the path of rolling balls, then there is no penalty. However, if such an act was premeditated or someone holding onto the flagstick interrupts its motion purposely, you would need to adhere to Rule 11.2c which stipulates that stroke does not count; thus requiring you return and replay from your initial position. Additionally ,apart from getting disqualified for intentional interference under both match play or stroke play one receives two strokes penalty respectively .