March - 2010
O.K. Sometimes the Rules of Golf are extremely difficult to understand and interpret. I get it. But people surprise me how sometimes they don't understand simple situations under the Rules that are part of playing the game. A lost ball, playing a provisional ball, taking a drop, where to drop, what to do when a ball is unplayable, when you get relief for swing or stance-and on and on.
My mom used to tell me when people say, "trust me" that's when you head for the hills and don't slow down. So, at the risk of losing you, I'd like to give you a few things to remember about the Rules without the explanations. Just real golf situations that occur and will always be there. You are welcome to get a Decisions book and look them up, but in the meantime, "trust me"…
During team play this year, I managed to (miss?) a drive at Bella Colina that hit a tree, stayed there, ten feet up, with my ball-mark staring right at me. (If I couldn't identify it, then it would have been a lost ball, even if I could see it).
Under the Rule for an Unplayable lie, I could go back to the tee, or take the point where my suddenly afraid of the earth ball is resting and go as far back as I want between that point and the hole or drop directly below the point my ball is resting in the tree, (and drop within two club-lengths of that point). That's the key-if you have an unplayable lie-you are allowed two club-lengths whether it's up a tree or under a bush. Dropping below the spot in the tree was my choice, and I some how eventually ended up winning the hole.
The penalty for an unplayable lie is one stroke. Remember, you have THREE different options if your ball is unplayable. You have to decide what's best for you. If you are taking RELIEF- Cart path, Obstruction, Ground Under Repair, you are allowed to drop your ball within one club-length (from where you have free relief, no closer to the hole) and your ball can roll up to two more club-lengths (no closer to the hole).
If you are taking a drop for a PENALTY situation- Unplayable lie, ball in a lateral water hazard, you are allowed two club-lengths to drop your ball, and it can roll up to two more club-lengths and be in play.
If your ball may be Lost or Out of Bounds, Always, Always, Always, (Did I make my point?) play a Provisional Ball! Always ANNOUNCE that you are playing a Provisional ball, and ALWAYS be able to identify your Provisional ball from your original ball. And Always do this before leaving the tee.
You cannot play a Provisional Ball if your ball went into a Water Hazard.
You can take relief (swing or stance) from an Obstruction- that's anything artificial, including the artificial surfaces and sides of roads and paths and manufactured ice, except;
objects defining Out of Bounds, such as walls, fences, STAKES, and railings; and any part of an immovable artificial object that is out of bounds; and any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course.
An Obstruction is a Moveable Obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. Otherwise it is an Immovable Obstruction.
O.K., the Rules are complicated, but you really can master the basics with a little time and effort.