Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ask Linda #749-Relief for awkward stance

Hi Linda,

If a player's ball embeds in the lip if a bunker where the:
       lip is covered by grass,
       the ball is not touching the sand, and
       a local rule permitting relief through the green is in place,
my understanding is that the player can, without penalty, drop the ball as near as possible to the point where it embedded. This would mean they are dropping very close to the lip of the bunker and would probably end up with a very awkward stance. A fellow-competitor argued that a player is entitled to a stance and should be able to find a place to drop the ball (no nearer the hole and as near as possible to where the ball embedded) that would afford a stance. This place might be to the side of the bunker. Is she correct?
Lulu from Australia

Dear Lulu,

Free relief for an awkward stance? That doesn’t sound like the Rules of Golf to me!

Your understanding about where to drop an embedded ball is correct. The Rule is quite clear in stating that the ball must be dropped as near as possible to where it lay, no closer to the hole [Rule 25-2].

The ball landed close to the lip of the bunker, giving the player an awkward stance and a difficult shot. The Local Rule permits the player relief from the embedded problem (thank goodness for small favors!). You are permitted to un-plug your ball, but you are not permitted to find a friendlier spot from which to hit it. If the player finds the stance to be too uncomfortable, or the lip appears to be an insurmountable obstacle, she has the option to declare her ball unplayable and proceed under one of the relief options in Rule 28 (all of which include a one-stroke penalty).

Your fellow competitor may be confusing this Rule with others that allow a player stance relief, such as when your stance is on a paved cartpath (immovable obstruction). Relief for an embedded ball does not include stance relief, nor should it.

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