Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ask Linda #233-Unplayable confusion

Dear Linda,

Yesterday, at a tournament, a fellow player hit her ball into some very deep, matted down grass. I helped her find it and she immediately picked it up, said she couldn't hit it from there, and said she'd take a penalty. Another player said (and I agree with her) she couldn't pick it up and bring it back to the tee. She could take an unplayable lie, but it had to be dropped within 2 club-lengths and add a one-stroke penalty. She had already picked up the ball, not marking the spot! She hemmed around a bit and put it back in the area where it had been and hit it. What the heck should the consequences have been?


Dear Lulu,

A player is entitled to declare her ball unplayable, lift it, and return to the tee to try again [Rule 28a]. It sounds like that is what the player wanted to do. Had she stuck to her guns, she would have been proceeding correctly. She would count the original stroke and add a one-stroke penalty for an unplayable ball. Her next stroke from the tee would be her third shot.

Instead, she got herself into some trouble by not trusting her knowledge of the rules. When she lifted her ball and then replaced it, she incurred a one-stroke penalty for lifting a ball in play under Rule 18-2a. If she did not add that penalty stroke to her score, she would be disqualified for recording a score lower than she had actually taken [Rule 6-6d].

At the end of the round, before signing the scorecard, the player should have consulted a member of the Committee. She would have been properly advised to add a stroke to her score for the hole and everything would have been hunky dory (that’s American slang for “just fine”).

If the player had replaced the ball and then decided to declare it unplayable and drop within two club-lengths, she would incur two penalty strokes–one for lifting a ball in play, and one for taking relief for an unplayable ball.


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