Friday, January 17, 2014

Ask Linda #778-Island green

Hi Linda,

I am a captain of a golf club in Johore, Malaysia, and even though I have quite a good grasp of the Rules of Golf, there are times when I am unable to give clear cut answers to disputes. For example, a player hits his ball towards an island green. It lands on it but rolls over to the back of the green, then rolls past the apron and into the water. According to the rule, this player should drop a ball within two club-lengths from the point where the ball last crossed the hazard but not nearer to the pin. What if there is no point alongside the green that is not nearer to the pin? Where then is the nearest point of relief?

The second scenario is, there is a drop point which is not nearer to the pin for this player to drop the ball, but it is sloping towards the water. What is his recourse if the ball that is being dropped eventually rolls into the water? 

The third scenario is, this player plays his shot over the green and straight into the water behind the green. Is he entitled to drop a ball at the other side of the island green which will give him the advantage of chipping his ball near to the hole? How then should the dropping point be determined if the island green is circular in shape?

The fourth scenario is where the club has designated a dropping zone in front of the island green. Can this player insist that he play his next shot from the back of the green? 

Can the Club also make it mandatory for all golfers to play from the drop zone in the event their balls end up in the water hazard?

Please shed some light on this subject that has bothered me for quite some time.

Lou from Malaysia

Dear Lou,

Ordinarily, the water in front of an island green (directly between the tee and the green) is marked as a water hazard, the water on each side of the green is a lateral hazard, and the water behind the green is also a lateral hazard. The Committee may define all of the water as a water hazard (yellow stakes), establish a dropping zone, and write a Local Rule that gives players the option of using the dropping zone [Decision 33-2a/10]. Players should always have at least two relief options for a ball in a water hazard.

On to your questions…

First scenario: If there is no relief within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard that is not closer to the hole, the player must return to the tee, use the dropping zone, or cross the water behind the green and drop a ball beyond the hazard on the line-of-sight to the hole. The Committee should provide a dropping zone when only one relief option is available.

Second scenario: It would be best if the dropping zone were located on a flat area. If that is not possible, a ball that rolls into the hazard after a drop must be re-dropped under Rule 20-2c. If it rolls into the hazard after the second drop, it must be placed on the spot where it struck the ground when it was re-dropped. If even a placed ball rolls into the hazard, the Committee really needs to look into locating the dropping zone on a more suitable (flatter) spot.

Third scenario: If the water in back of the green is marked as a lateral hazard, the player must drop in accordance with my answer to your first scenario. There is no option to drop on the other side of the green, which would clearly be outside the two club-length limit.

Fourth scenario: The Committee is permitted to declare the use of the dropping zone mandatory for all balls that enter the water, although it would be more in keeping with the Rules of Golf to allow players all the relief options available to them under Rule 26-1. If use of the dropping zone is mandatory, players have no choice but to use it if they hit into the water. If it is not mandatory, the player who hit over the green may choose to drop within two club-lengths of the spot where his ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, provided he can find a place to drop that is no closer to the hole. His other options are to use the dropping zone, re-tee, or cross the water and drop on the line-of-sight to the hole.

All of these relief options include a one-stroke penalty.
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