Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Rules Nugget: NPR for ball in rough is on fairway

Suppose your ball lies in the rough close to the fairway, and an immovable obstruction or an abnormal ground condition interferes with your lie, stance, or area of intended swing. You know you are entitled to free relief within one club-length of the nearest point of relief that is no closer to the hole, but can you answer this question: If the nearest point of relief is on the fairway, may you drop there, or must you drop your ball in the same condition (the rough, in this case)? Think a minute, before reading on. I have addressed this question before, so I’m hoping you get the answer right.

Careful readers of my blog will know that you may drop on the fairway [Decision 24-2b/8]. The Rules do not distinguish between fairway and rough – both areas are “through the green” (more on that in a minute). There is no debating the nearest point of relief – it is the point nearest to where the ball lies that is no closer to the hole and provides complete relief from the condition [Definition of “Nearest Point of Relief”]. This is why I always caution readers to calculate the NPR before lifting the ball. Sometimes you get lucky and the NPR will be in a favorable lie; other times the NPR could turn out to be in a virtually unplayable lie (e.g., fescue, brambles). A ball lying on the cart path may look a whole lot better when you figure out that the NPR will be in the middle of a blackberry bush!

Were you awake when I explained the meaning of the golf term “through the green?” Apparently the commentator following Hideki Matsuyama at the Masters on Saturday was not. (Or he has not bothered to read the Definitions section of the Rules of Golf.) Mr. Matsuyama hit his ball over the back of the 17th green, and the commentator stated: “That is what is meant by hitting the ball through the green.” Well, no, it’s not. That is hitting the ball over the green. “Through the green,” as we all know, is anywhere on the course except the teeing ground and the putting green of the hole being played, and all hazards.  

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