Monday, February 6, 2017

Ask Linda #1473-Dropped ball rolls outside prescribed area

Hi Linda,
I know I can always rely on you for an answer.

Although I regard myself as pretty knowledgeable on the ROG, I am struggling to find the actual answer to this scenario.

With regard to dropping a ball, whether a free or penalty drop:

My understanding is that first you place your feet at the nearest possible place, no nearer the hole and taking complete relief with your feet. Using the club you intended on using for your next shot, you then take a stance and peg on the ground the point at which the club sits on the ground. You then measure the one or two club-lengths with your driver from that peg and peg the next mark, too.

Now that the measurements are known you can proceed to drop the ball as per the ROG within the two pegs that measure the one or two club-lengths.

My question now begins: Having dropped my ball, it landed between the two pegs but rolled outside the one or two club-lengths allowed. It did not finish nearer the hole. Do I drop again until the ball comes to rest between the two pegs not nearer the hole or until I have to place it manually at the point where it first touched the ground, or is there a level of flexibility? For example, with a two club-length drop the ball strikes the ground within the two club-length area but comes to rest 3 club-lengths away but not nearer the hole. Is the ball in play even though it is effectively a 3-club drop or is it only in play when it either comes to an automatic standstill or manually positioned in the two club-lengths?

If there is flexibility in dropping, how much flexibility is there? I have been told there is but for the life of me can't find it stated anywhere.

Kindest regards,
Lou from Sunshine Coast, Australia

Dear Lou,

I’m going to try to clear up three misunderstandings in your narrative, briefly address your question, and then refer you to a very detailed column I wrote in 2008 that you should find helpful.

1. When you are seeking relief from an abnormal ground condition, you must find the nearest spot no closer to the hole where you will be able to stand and swing without interference from that condition. So it’s not just your feet that are entitled to relief. Take your stance with the club you would use for your next shot and make small adjustments to that stance until you are able to swing freely with no interference. Mark the spot where your club touches the ground, and use your longest club to mark a spot one club-length away, no closer to the hole.

2. When you are seeking relief that includes a penalty stroke, the distance you are entitled to move is very specific. You are not entitled to nearest point of relief (NPR) plus an additional two club-lengths. Looking at the two-club-length relief option for an unplayable ball, for example, you are permitted to drop the ball two club-lengths away from the spot where the ball lies. You may still have a problem hitting your ball after your drop, and may need another two club-lengths – each successive drop includes an additional penalty stroke.

3. Let’s look at a free relief situation (NPR plus one club-length). When you drop the ball, it does not have to land precisely in between the two pegs. Those pegs mark the limit of how far forward you may drop the ball. The area where you may drop the ball can be better understood if you visualize the pointy end of a very large compass fixed in the ground where you place your first peg. Open the compass and put the pencil end in the ground where your second peg lies. Start drawing a circle with the pencil (please remember this is a visualization), tracing away from the hole. Stop drawing when you will again have interference from the condition from which you were taking relief or when you will pass the first peg (which would put you closer to the hole). Your “drawing” will be a large, medium, or small portion of a pie, depending on your circumstances.

When you drop the ball, it must hit the ground within the portion of pie that you mentally traced on the ground. After the ball hits the ground, there are seven situations where the Rules would require a re-drop; they are listed in Rule 20-2c. I will limit my answer to your specific question regarding a ball that rolls out of the prescribed area, no closer to the hole. After you drop the ball in the correct area, it is a good drop if the ball does not roll more than two club-lengths from where it first hit the ground [Rule 20-2c (vi)]. This means that the ball may very well settle outside the area circumscribed by our imaginary compass. In fact, if you were taking a two-club-length drop for an unplayable ball, and you were to drop the ball near the peg, the ball might settle almost four club-lengths from where it originally lay and still be a good drop. (The peg is in the ground two club-lengths from where the ball originally lay, the ball is dropped very close to the peg, the ball rolls two club-lengths further away.)

Please click on this link to a previous Ask Linda column for further clarification:

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