tre269 - Basically, it’s a judgment call. When a player’s ball at rest moves, the cause of the ball’s movement has to be assessed. In many situations, the answer will be obvious. In other situations, there may be some question as to why the ball moved - e.g., because it is less than certain that the player’s actions near the ball caused it to move, or because multiple factors were present that potentially might have caused the ball to move. All relevant information must be considered. If the evidence indicates that it is more likely than not that the player caused the ball to move, even though that conclusion is not free from doubt, the player incurs a 1-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 and the ball must be replaced. Otherwise, the player incurs no penalty and the ball is played as it lies unless some other Rule applies (e.g., Rule 18-1).
A golfer hits his ball into a large Cypress tree. While looking for the ball, he moves some branches. The ball falls out from the opposite side of the tree from the moved branches. He is positive the branch he moved did not cause the ball to move or move the tree. Is there any penalty involved?
When I lose my ball, (notice I didn’t say “if I lose my ball”) and having taken the “Pace of play pledge” should I go back to the Tee box after searching for my ball for 5 minutes?