Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ask Linda #191-More about fenced pond


I do not want to drag this on [please see Ask Linda #190], but when I talked to my guys they want to be very clear on this ruling. I have attached a drawing to show how we have it figured out. There are two circumstances that we would like confirmation on.

(1) First is if you enter into the "lateral water hazard" you have the option of dropping on the other side of the hazard "equidistant" from the hole. Because of the odd shape of the fenced area this would entitle you to go almost to the bottom of the bell depending where the pin was and where it entered. You would then be allowed to drop between that point and back as far as you want. This is an option that we never consider on this hole and will allow us the possibility of saving par. This is regardless of the fact that we will then have to hit over the parking lot which could then be a hazard to be discussed in another thread.

(2)There is one other situation that we would like to have confirmed. That is, when your ball stops before the hazard and you have a swing without hitting the fence. Since the fence is pretty high and you are not entitled to "line of sight' and you must use the same club that you would be hitting, in this case say an 8 iron would be necessary to reach the green. However, if you decide to hit to the fairway and you turn your back to the fence (for a right handed golfer) you now hit the fence with your 5 iron which you need to keep the ball below the trees. You are then entitled to relief. Relief would be stance plus one club-length. You would then be far enough from the fence to hit over it. We would like to confirm that this is allowed and is just a matter of applying the rules and is not bending or breaking them in any way.

Thank you for all your help.

Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

I’m not certain that I understand your question correctly, Lou, but I will try to answer you based on what I suspect you are asking. If my answer does not address the question you meant to pose, then let me know if I can call you so that we can straighten this out.

One of the relief options for a ball in a water hazard (whether regular or lateral) is to drop a ball behind the hazard on a line that starts at the hole, passes through the spot where your ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, and extends back to infinity. This is commonly known as dropping a ball on the line-of-sight to the hole. Looking at your diagram (a bell-shaped pond on the left side of the fairway), the line-of-sight for a ball that enters the hazard where it would properly be marked as a lateral hazard will be a line that passes through the water and exits on the other side. You may walk around to the other side of the hazard, line up the flagstick with the spot where your ball entered the hazard, and go back as far as you wish to drop a ball (assessing yourself a one-stroke penalty, of course).

If your ball enters the hazard where it is marked as a lateral, and you choose the option to drop on the other side of the hazard at a point equidistant from the hole, you must drop a ball within two club-lengths of that point and not closer to the hole. You may not proceed to move back as far as you wish along the line-of-sight to the hole from that equidistant point on the opposite bank. The only point from which you are permitted to drop back along the line-of-sight is from the point where your ball last crossed the margin of the hazard.

There are two excellent diagrams with accompanying explanations on how to find all the correct relief options for a ball in a lateral water hazard in the Decisions book. Please spend some time studying Decisions 26-1/14 and 26-1/15–I think you will find their information invaluable. For those of my readers who are uncertain how to access the USGA Decisions, here is a quick review:

1. Visit the USGA website:

2. On the top bar, put your cursor on “Rules,” and click on “Rules and Decisions.”

3. For the particular Decisions I referenced above, scroll down the left side to “Rule 26” and click on “Water Hazards…”

4. Look for “Decisions” on the right side, scroll down to “26-1/14,” and click on it.

5. Scroll down the Decisions in the center section until you reach 26-1/14. Don’t forget to read 26-1/15, too.

In order to answer your second question, Lou, I consulted a rules official at the USGA. Here is your answer:

You are entitled to free relief if the fence interferes with your normal stance or swing for a normal direction of play. Ask yourself the following: How would the player play his next shot if the fence weren’t there? Would he elect to hit sideways? It is reasonable to assume that without the fence the player would choose to hit an 8-iron towards the green. Since he has enough room to swing an 8-iron without contacting the fence, there is no free relief for the ball lying near the fence. A sideways shot with a 5-iron would be ruled as “an unnecessarily abnormal…direction of play” [24-2b, Exception]. The player’s only recourse under the rules would be to take a one-stroke penalty and proceed under one of the options in Rule 28, Ball Unplayable.

The best solution to all your problems, of course, would be to tear down the fence that surrounds the pond.


Copyright © 2010 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.