Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ask Linda #1257-Relief options after failure to get ball out of hazard

Dear Linda:

Today we were a group of four: Leroy, Larry, Llewellyn and Lou (myself).

The left edge of the fairway on par 3 hole #13 is punctuated by a significant pond favoured by mallards and demarcated by yellow stakes.

Llewellyn’s turn at the tee was marred by a pulled shot that crossed the pond and landed in deep grass on the bank beyond, still inside the yellow stakes.

Llewellyn, thinking he might be able to locate his ball and have a shot, pondered hitting a provisional but was reminded by Leroy and Larry that if he were to do so, the provisional ball would become the ball in play and the ball in the hazard would be considered abandoned, so that after hitting the provisional, Llewellyn would be lying three.

Armed with this information, Llewellyn walked around the pond, located his ball, and swung at it, effecting approximately one yard’s progress of the ball within the hazard. A subsequent swing yielded a similar disappointing result, so that he was now lying three and pondering the wisdom of his decision to attempt to play the ball out of the hazard. 

The question for you is this. What were Llewellyn’s options after completing two unsuccessful swings within the hazard?

Presumably he could have declared his ball unplayable and dropped it within two club-lengths within the hazard, thus presenting himself (and his fellow competitors) with the possibility of repeated unsuccessful swings at his ball until terminated by dusk or, in a few decades, decease of the player. Did any of his options include dropping and playing his ball outside the hazard? If not, what escape do the rules afford?

And would it have made any difference if the hazard had been marked by red stakes, rather than yellow stakes?

And if he had hit his ball from the bank (inside the yellow stakes) into the pond in the bowels of the hazard, what would his options be then?

Yours curiously,
Lou from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Dear Lou,

This is an excellent question, Lou, with an answer that will be less complicated than you might think. Tuck this answer away in a safe corner of your brain – it will save you strokes in the future.

All of the following relief options include a one-stroke penalty, and all of them will get the player out of the hazard (see illustration and explanation at the bottom):

1. When a player chooses to play his ball that lies in a water hazard, and his stroke (or strokes) fails to get the ball out of the hazard, he may play a ball from the spot where he made his last stroke outside the hazard [Rule 26-2 (i)].

2. Alternately, he may take relief under Rule 26-1b, dropping out of the hazard on the line-of-sight to the hole, using as his reference point the spot where his original ball last crossed the margin of the hazard [Rule 26-2 (ii)].

3. If the hazard is a lateral water hazard (marked with red stakes), he may take relief under Rule 26-1c (the two-club-length option on either side of the hazard – please read the Rule for specifics). As in #2 above, his reference point will be the spot where his original ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard [Rule 26-2 (ii)].

Count the tee shot into the hazard, all subsequent shots inside the hazard, and the penalty stroke that allows the player to take relief outside the hazard.

The player may not deem his ball unplayable when it lies in a water hazard [Rule 28]. The only relief options for a ball in a water hazard are those listed in Rule 26-1.

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Check out the drawing and explanation below: