Friday, December 9, 2011

Ask Linda #385-Drop on green

Hi Linda,
I know that you have addressed this before, but I have a situation in which one of my best friends will not concede that I made my drop correctly. Here’s what happened. It was a 185 yard par 3 with a lateral water hazard (marked with red stakes) behind the green. It was not actually water, but a brushy area that fell off into a canyon. The green has an approximately 3 foot collar (first cut of rough) around it. I hit my ball from the tee, and it hit on the green. The ball rolled off the back of the green and into the hazard. I found my ball in a bush, but it was not playable. I opted to drop 2 club-lengths from the point where the ball entered the hazard, but not closer to the hole. Because the collar was only 3 foot wide, my drop was onto the green. I then putted out. I was using Rule 26-1c. My friend is convinced that I violated the rules, and that you can never drop onto a green. He has quoted me Rule 20-2ciii, and tells me the ball cannot be dropped onto the green EVER. He cites the second part of the sentence that states “and comes to rest on the green” as his justification. Was I legal in dropping on the green?

Dear Lou,

I understand that this is a difficult ruling to understand, but your drop onto the green was completely legal.

When you choose to take relief for a ball in a lateral water hazard under Rule 26-1c, the only restrictions are that you must drop it (1) within two club-lengths and (2) no closer to the hole. If the area meeting those two requirements turns out to be on the green, then you are a lucky fellow.

The same holds true for an unplayable ball. If your ball were unplayable in the roots of a tree near a putting green, and the nearest relief within two club-lengths and no closer to the hole were on the green, you would be permitted to drop on the green.

Neither the water hazard rule nor the unplayable ball rule prohibits you from dropping on the putting green. On the other hand, when you are taking free relief from an immovable obstruction, an abnormal ground condition, or a wrong putting green, the rules [24-2b, 25-1, 25-3] state clearly that if your ball lies through the green, then you are not permitted to drop in a hazard or on a putting green. This is where Rule 20-2c (iii) comes into play. It states that a ball must be re-dropped if it rolls onto a putting green, and refers only to balls that are not permitted to be dropped on a green.

When your two club-length relief from a lateral water hazard or an unplayable condition is on the green, you are dropping a ball on the green. You have not dropped a ball off the green that rolls onto the green. Therefore, you are not governed by Rule 20-2c (iii).

It is important to remember that when you are proceeding under a particular rule, it is that rule that governs your actions. There are specific rules for taking relief from water hazards [Rule 26] and unplayable balls [Rule 28], and you must observe the relief procedures described in those rules when your ball is in the water or unplayable.

It is perfectly understandable that golfers find these different rulings difficult to understand. I hope my answer has helped to clarify these rules for you and your friend.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.