Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Ask Linda #1149-Meaning of two-club-length drop from lateral hazard
A playing partner hit his ball into a lateral hazard and elected to take a 2 club length penalty drop. When he dropped the ball it rolled backwards about 3 feet and left his stance just over the red line marking the hazard.
He said he was entitled to take the drop again because he was entitled to complete relief from the hazard. I said I thought the ball was in play, my argument being that he was not taking relief, he was taking a penalty drop.
I would say that 90% of the golfers I questioned about the incident said that the player was entitled to another drop.
Can you tell me your opinion, please?
Another question comes to mind and is relevant to the same situation. On taking his penalty drop the ball was always likely to roll backwards because of the slope. Could the player have taken 4 club lengths for 2 penalty shots but not drop the ball after taking the first penalty because it was likely to roll backward into almost the same position?
I look forward to hearing your response.
Lou from Whitley Bay, England
Allow me to preface my answer by stating that Rules are not a matter of opinion; they are a matter of fact.
Your survey reveals that the players you consulted are confusing free relief from such things as immovable obstructions and abnormal ground conditions with penalty drops that specify a drop within two club-lengths:
• Free relief requires that a player take complete relief from the condition, and requires a re-drop if the player still has interference from the same condition after he drops his ball [Rule 20-2c (v)].
• Penalty drops that players use to get relief from such problems as lateral water hazards and unplayable balls are limited to two club-lengths. A player does not get to re-drop unless the ball rolls back into the hazard, rolls more than two club-lengths from where it hit the ground, rolls nearer the hole than the point where it last crossed the margin of the hazard, etc. (for a complete list, read Rule 20-2c).
A player is not entitled to complete relief when he takes a two-club-length penalty drop. He is entitled to drop two club-lengths away, period. The player in your scenario was not entitled to re-drop. Your understanding of the Rule is correct.
The answer to your second question is “no.” When a player chooses to take a two-club-length drop, he must drop the ball. If he needs another two club-lengths, he must drop the ball two club-lengths from where the ball came to rest after the first drop. Each two-club-length drop includes another penalty stroke. Don’t forget that if the ball rolls back into the hazard after the first drop, and does the same after a re-drop, the player must place the ball where it hit the ground on his second drop.
If the slope next to the hazard is so steep that a dropped ball will always roll back towards or into the hazard, the hazard boundary may not be marked correctly. Stakes (or lines) should be placed where the ground begins to break down to form the hazard, which generally puts the boundary on a relatively flat piece of land.
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