Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ask Linda #762a-How far ball may roll when dropped

With respect to Ask Linda #762-Position of feet during drop, I don't think you get 2 club lengths from where a dropped ball hits the ground. For instance, if I take relief from a cart path, I find my nearest point of relief (not closer to the hole), sole my club there, and then drop my club forward, further from the path, but along the same line (no nearer to the hole). I then try to drop near the edge of that 1-club free relief to get as close as I can to the edge of the relief, but if the ball rolls beyond that 1-club relief point, I need to re-drop, right?...and then if it hits and rolls past that mark again on the re-drop, I place the ball where it hit the ground...isn't this right under the rules?

Dear Lou,

No, it’s not right, Lou, and I’m very glad you asked this question. There is widespread misunderstanding of how far a dropped ball may roll, and I appreciate the opportunity to clear up this matter.

The Rule is the same regardless of whether you are taking a two-club-length relief (e.g., unplayable ball, lateral water hazard) or a nearest-point-of-relief-one-club-length relief (e.g., immovable obstruction, abnormal ground condition). Once you establish the area in which you must drop your ball, the ball must hit the ground in that designated area. However, it need not remain in that area. After it hits the ground, it may come to rest as much as two club-lengths away from the spot where it hit the ground [Rule 20-2c (vi)]. (There are other restrictions on where the ball may not come to rest, such as out of bounds, into or out of a hazard, closer to the hole than its original position – for a complete list see Rule 20-2c.)

Let’s take a look at a ball that is unplayable in the roots of a tree. After the player measures his two-club-length relief, he may drop the ball at the very edge of that area. If the ball rolls out of the area (no closer to the hole) almost two full club-lengths, the player is now practically four club-lengths away from where his ball lay amongst the roots. This is a good drop, and is in play. You may not re-drop this ball, and will incur a penalty under Rule 18-2a if you do.

The same principle is in effect when you take relief from an immovable obstruction, such as a cart path. After your ball hits the ground in the correct dropping area, it may roll outside, but will still be a good drop under the Rules if it does not settle more than two club-lengths from where it hit the ground. If you pick up this ball, you are lifting your ball in play and will incur a penalty under Rule 18-2a.

I’m confused by your use of the word “forward,” where you say “(I) drop my club forward, further from the path.” Since most cart paths are located at the edge of the fairway or in the rough, you must angle your club away from the hole when you measure your one-club-length relief so as not to drop closer to the hole.

This would be a good time for everyone to take a moment to become familiar with Rule 20-2, which explains who must drop the ball, how and where to drop it, and when to re-drop.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.