Monday, November 23, 2015

Ask Linda #1197-Drop in correct place despite incorrect understanding

Dear Linda,

Suppose a player, after hitting his ball in a water hazard (yellow stakes), decides to apply rule 26-1b, but instead of dropping it on a point behind where the ball last crossed the border of the hazard in line with the hole, he dropped it on line with the tee. This is a procedural error, but fortunately the outcome is the same, since the hole, the tee, and the point where the ball crossed the water hazard are on the same line.

After playing the ball, the player realizes the error he made, but he decides to leave the situation as it is because the outcome would have been the same. My question is whether the player is subject to a penalty for wrongly applying this rule (or any other rule for that matter) or is the outcome the designator for the penalty?

Kind regards
Lou from the Netherlands

Dear Lou,

A player is obligated to play by the Rules. If he has chosen to take relief behind a water hazard under Rule 26-1b, and the spot where he drops the ball satisfies the requirements of that Rule, it is a good drop and there is no penalty.

The problem I see is that if he misunderstands the Rule, he will apply it incorrectly at some future time when the hole, the spot where he last crossed the margin of the hazard, and the tee do not line up in a straight line. Someone should explain to the player that the drop must be behind the hazard on the line that begins at the hole, passes through the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, and extends backward with no limit.

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