RULE: I don't think I can play my ball from here

Ever get into the situation where it is better to take a penalty than try to hack your ball out of an unplayable place?

What is the penalty? What are my drop options?


Firstly, who decides whether your ball is unplayable?

You do, and you are the sole judge of that!

Where can I declare my ball unplayable?

Any place on the course except a penalty area. Yes, even a bunker.

OK. What are my options then?

You have three options if you declare your ball unplayable. See Rule 19.2 and Diagram 19.2

  • Play a ball as near as possible from where you played your last shot. If that was from the tee then you can tee it up. You must drop within 1 club length of that point (reference point).(Stroke and distance ) A penalty of one stroke.

  • Drop a ball within two club lengths of spot where your original ball rests, but not nearer the hole - lateral relief. (A penalty of one stroke.) Now sometimes, even though your drop was correct, this does not give you adequate relief from the problem. If you do use this option and your correct manner of drop does not give you relief - stiff cheese. You cannot drop again. One chance is all you get. So maybe the next option is better. 

  • Your third option is drop a ball back-on-the-the-line behind the point where the ball rests, but keeping that relief point between the drop point and the flag. The relief area is one club length from this reference point.  A penalty of one stroke. See table 19.2 (2)
 BUT—if you were in a bunker and you declared your ball unplayable, then you have 4 options! Three options cost one penalty stroke each, but the fourth, where you drop outside the bunker, will cost you two strokes! Check out Diagram.3 for each of these options 

 Can I clean my ball when I decide to lift it under this rule?

Yes you can clean it—you can even substitute another ball if you wish. 

My ball went into the scrub, and I can’t find it. Can I declare it unplayable and use option 2 or 3? 

No! You must find your ball before you have the option of declaring it unplayable. If it is a lost ball,  so it is not possible to use your original ball as a reference point!

 

In this example in the photo, you would invoke option 2 as it provides the best relief. Dropping at the maximum distance of 2 club lengths from where the ball lies lets you at least see the flag. Remember the ball MUST strike the ground within and stay within that 2 club length of the relief area.

What do you do if you drop the ball correctly, it lands within the permitted area, but rolls away from the legal drop zone, stopping still no nearer the hole?

Check out Rule 14.3c - when to re-drop.

 

 

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