Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ask Linda #1268-Where to drop outside hazard

Hi Linda,

During a recent friendly four-ball round a couple of situations arose which I believe we continued correctly but would appreciate your comments/ruling.

Situation 1
My colleague drove his ball from the eighteenth tee box. The ball struck a tree on the opposite side of a small lake (surrounded by yellow stakes) in front of and slightly to the left of the teeing area. It then fell onto the bank side below the tree and rolled down the bank back past the line of yellow stakes and into the water. Because it had crossed the hazard, we believed he could drop between the hazard and the hole, nearest point of relief, within a club length of the yellow stakes, under penalty of one shot. So moving to one side of the lake he dropped the ball and it came to rest further away from the hole than the yellow stake the closest to the hole. We believed this to be correct. My other two colleagues were a little concerned as the ball was played from a point closer to the hole than where it had come to rest in the hazard, also they thought he should have dropped the ball between the teeing ground and the hazard and played over the hazard.

Situation 2
I played my tee shot on a par-3 hole. In front of the green and to the left was a water hazard marked with red stakes. So you don't have to cross it to reach the green. I pulled my tee shot left and it landed in the lake. If you imagine the lake as a clock, my ball crossed the lake about three o'clock and landed on an imaginary line between the clock centre and one o'clock. I thought I should drop my ball, still having to play across the lake, drawing a line from the hole to where my ball landed in the lake. My colleague advised me that as my ball had crossed the lake at three o'clock I could drop within two club lengths to the side of the lake and play onto the green from there, under penalty of one shot. Was this correct? If so, was this because of the lateral water hazard (red stakes)? If the lake had been staked yellow would I have had to drop and play across the lake, as I had believed?

Many thanks
Lou from France (playing in the UK)

Dear Lou,

You are making me very sad. It seems that no matter how many times I explain where to drop a ball when you decide to take relief from a water hazard, there is yet another golfer who is still in the dark. I am, however, a patient teacher, and I will try once again to offer a clear explanation.

Situation 1 – Ball in water hazard marked by yellow stakes
Very important concept: Relief is determined by where on the course the ball presently resides. The fact that the ball went past the markers on the far side of the water is basically irrelevant. Where is the ball now? It is in the water hazard. Where do you drop a ball when you are looking for relief from a yellow-staked hazard? Behind the hazard! (Stay tuned for one exception.)

Your colleague’s ball, which is in the hazard, actually crossed the margin of the hazard three times – on the near side, on the far side, and again on the far side when it rolled back into the hazard. Looking at the spot where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, draw an imaginary line from the hole, through that spot, across the water, and back as far as you want. He will drop the ball behind the hazard, anywhere on this line. His next shot will have to cross the hazard.

The other relief option for a ball in a water hazard is to play another ball from where you hit your original shot (“stroke and distance”). Most of the time, this will involve hitting over the hazard. The exception I promised is this: If you hit a ball over the green into a yellow-staked hazard behind the green, and you choose to play another ball under stroke and distance, you will not be hitting that ball from behind the hazard.

Situation 2 – Ball in lateral water hazard, marked by red stakes
Another important concept: Where the ball lies in the hazard has nothing to do with where you will drop your ball. Your reference point for taking relief is always where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard.

All of the relief options provided when your ball lies in a yellow-staked hazard are available to you when your ball lies in a lateral (red-staked) water hazard. Additionally, you may drop within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, no closer to the hole. You may also drop on the opposite side of the hazard within two club-lengths and not nearer the hole than the point that is equidistant from the hole. Your colleague was correct in advising you to drop within two club-lengths of the three o’clock position (which is where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard). If the hazard had been marked with yellow stakes, it would probably have been located in front of the green (not to the side), and yes, you would have to cross the water on your next shot.

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

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.