Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ask Linda #196-Changing relief option

Hi Linda,

Warm greetings from Australia. It is warm too...middle of Autumn and 27°C today.

Playing match play today, after her tee shot, my opponent declared her ball unplayable (under a large bush). She measured out two club lengths, lifted her ball and without dropping her ball decided that her next shot was still going to be hampered by the bush. She then wanted to go back to the tee for her next shot. What would the penalty be? As she was not completely sure that she could do this without loss of hole and I was almost sure that having chosen the two club length option she couldn't change the option without further penalty (keep in mind that she had not dropped her ball), she chose to drop her ball and play her next shot for 3. After asking around, we had different opinions offered. We want to know if she had gone back to the tee would she have been hitting off for 3 or 4?

Cheers, Lulu

Dear Lulu,

If the player had returned to the tee for her next shot, she would be hitting her third shot.

Just because the player stated she was choosing the relief option of dropping a ball within two club-lengths [Rule 28c] does not mean she was required to do so. Since she did not drop the ball, it was not in play and she could return to the tee for her third shot.

There is no need to establish a reference point for a drop when you are returning to the spot where the original ball was last played (in this case, the tee). Therefore, the penalty is one stroke for proceeding under this relief option (option “a”) in Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable).

However, if the player had decided, after lifting the ball, that she wanted to proceed under option “b” in Rule 28 (dropping a ball behind where her ball lay, on the line-of-sight to the hole), she would incur a two-stroke penalty – one stroke for lifting her ball in play [Rule 18-2a] and one stroke for taking relief for an unplayable ball.

And if the player had decided, after lifting her ball, that her best chance to hit it would be to put it back, then she would be assessed a one-stroke penalty for lifting her ball in play under Rule 18-2a.

When you decide to declare your ball “unplayable,” the best advice I can offer you is to not touch the ball until you have carefully assessed all your options.


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