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December 2008
By Clyde Luther

There are several Rules that apply where the player has an option when he finds himself in a difficult situation and must drop his ball before playing his shot.  Let's take a look a couple of situations where we have observed college players in competitions where a better review of their situation may have saved them a stroke.

-In the first case a player hit his ball into a lateral water hazard.  The hazard was to the left of the fairway and his ball entered the hazard on the left side.  His two club length drop where he last crossed the margin will require him to drop the ball in rough six inches deep, but if he drops the ball on the opposite margin equal distance from the hole, which is one of the players options, he could have dropped it in the fairway using a driver to measure his two clublengths.  The player was not either thinking or did not know his options.  Instead of a short wedge to the green out of six inch rough he could have dropped it in the fairway most likely saving a stroke.

-Now let's look at an unplayable situation.  A player in another recent event hit his ball into a large bush and the shot he was left with was totally unplayable.  The bush was on a slope and the player dropped the ball within two clublengths of where the ball was lying on the uphill side of the bush and the ball rolled back under the bush.  Many players believe that they are justified under the Rules of Golf to redrop the ball, not so. A redrop is not authorized under Rule 20-2c.  What should the player have done?  The

Unplayable Ball Rule gives the player three options.  Drop it within two club lengths, (he could have dropped it within two club lengths on the downhill side of the slope) drop it on a line extending from the flagstick through the point where the ball is lying and go back as far on that line as the player chooses, or last, replay from where the player played originally.  In this situation the player should have evaluated the situation before dropping the ball originally.

-The final situation that happened in 2008 occurred when a player found his ball on a cart path.  Many players, unwisely, pick up their ball immediately without considering or evaluating where the nearest point of relief will place them.  In this case the player lifted his ball and then determined that the nearest point of relief would put him into a hedge.  Rather than choose that option he decided to play the ball from the cart path.  That option was OK, but it cost him a stroke penalty for having lifted his ball with out penalty.  The player should have evaluated the entire situation before lifting his ball.

It is very important that a player step back and THINK before acting in these types of situations.


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