Friday, March 13, 2015

Ask Linda #1017-Dropped ball rolls forward

Dear Linda,

I recently played in a club event and a member of my threesome called a penalty on me that I don’t think was right.

In taking relief from a cart path, I took a stance with a club in my hand and my feet off the cart path. I dropped behind and within one club-length of where my club head was. When my dropped ball hit the ground, it rolled forward about four inches. Since it had rolled nearer to the hole, I picked it up, dropped it again, and played to the green.

The person in my threesome said I was penalized two strokes for moving my ball and not replacing it. He claimed that while my ball rolled forward, it did not roll nearer the hole than the original position of the ball or the nearest point of relief. I had never heard of this. I thought I was doing the right thing.

We took this to the pro and he didn’t know the answer. Help!

Lou in Fort Branch, Indiana

Dear Lou,

Relief from an immovable obstruction must be within one club-length and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief.  It is possible for a dropped ball to roll forward yet still come to rest no closer to the hole.

Let’s walk through the relief process. You take your stance off the cart path with the club you plan to use for your next shot. You mark the spot where your clubhead touches the ground (this is not a requirement, but it will help you avoid dropping in a wrong place). You measure one club-length from this spot, angling your club slightly away from the hole to be sure you will not drop closer to the hole. Mark the spot at the end of that club-length. Now, leaving that club on the ground with the end of the grip held firmly at the first mark, drag the clubhead back toward the cart path. Stop dragging when the club is parallel to the path. The area circumscribed by your two marks and the ground over which you dragged your club is the prescribed area in which you may drop the ball. It will look like a portion of pie.

If you drop on the line between your two marks and the ball rolls forward of that line, the ball is closer to the hole than the nearest point of relief and you will have to re-drop [Rule 20-2c (vii) (b)]. If you drop behind the line (contacting the ground in your portion of pie), and the ball rolls forward but not past the line between your two marks, the ball has not rolled closer to the hole than the nearest point of relief and it is in play. Thus, if you lift that ball and re-drop, you have lifted your ball in play. The penalty is one stroke if you replace it, two strokes if you re-drop and play it from its new position. Your fellow competitor was correct when he assessed you a two-stroke penalty.

Note that while the ball must hit the ground in the prescribed area, it may roll as much as two club-lengths from where it hits the ground, which will take it out of your portion of pie. As long as the ball does not roll closer to the hole than the extended line between your two marks, and you still have complete relief from the cart path, the drop is good.

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