My ball landed in front of a special present left by a dog on my home course. To hit the ball, I would have had to strike the pile first. I was playing a casual nine holes with my husband, so I carefully moved my ball with my club and went on with my game. What should I have done had I been playing a tournament?
The Golf For Women rules expert Genger Fahleson who is the Assistant Director of Rules Education at the USGA wrote as follows:
Under the Rules of Golf, dog excrement is a loose impediment (see the Definition of “Loose Impediment”). In all rounds of golf you are entitled to remove loose impediments, but not the ball (see Rule 23). You should have removed the pile with your club or a stick, without moving the ball. In the situation above, the penalty for moving your ball is one stroke. (Rule 18-2a).
Since I live directly on our golf course I see many people walking their dog early in the morning or late in the evening. I also watch as their dogs do their business and they just continue to walk on. I wonder why they do this, as I am sure they treat those dogs as one of the family, but give no thought as to what is being left behind. It would be no problem to bring a plastic bag and pick up these droppings left by their wonderful loving dogs on their daily walks on our golf course.
If any golfers comes upon such an incident as was described by Kate Spates you now know what to do if you are playing in a tournament. I would have done the same thing Kate did when playing a casual golf game with my friends, just move the ball. Golf has so many rules and you need to be aware of these when playing in any tournament. New rules may be added when the USGA is presented with yet another incident that requires a rule to settle a tournament situation.
If you have a dog and want to walk along the golf cart paths early in the morning or late at night please bring along that extra plastic sack to remove the droppings then dispose of it when you return home. Keep our golf courses neat for all to enjoy.