February - 2017
So where were we? Oh yea, I think we're on hole number 3 at the muni, and I just drove the ball down the right side of the fairway and now I'm hoping for a good lie. I get to where I think the ball should be, but can't find it. Luckily, my fellow competitors, those nice guys with whom I'm playing, just found a ball 20 yards closer to the hole, right on the middle of the cart path and wanted to know if this is the ball I just hit. It is! Good thing I marked the ball so that I could identify it as mine. Great, no having to go back to the tee and re-hit.!
So now what? I've got tree limb issues to the right of the cart path and really heavy rough to the left of the cart path, what should I do? Of course, I could always apply that old principle upon which golf is predicated and play the ball as it lies, not touching it except when I tee it up and then pick it up from the hole, but am I good enough to play the ball off concrete some 120 yards to the hole and get it over that nasty bunker that protects the right side of the green? Nah! Let's take relief as permitted under Rule 24-2, which now means I must find my nearest point of relief.
So, with the ball in the middle of the cart path, leaving it right there, not touching it, I take my stance on the right side, and I'm right handed. So I take complete relief from the obstruction, meaning my feet are firmly planted in the grass and my heels aren't touching the cart path. I take my stance with the club that I would play from 120 yards out and having to go under some limbs, and I put my club face on the ground where the ball would be and mark that spot with a tee, making sure the spot is no closer to the hole than where my ball lies. I now go the left side of the cart path, and with the club I would use from 120 yards, in heavy rough, but no tree limbs, I take my stance and I drop my club face to the ground where the ball would be, a few inches short of the cart path and where, if I swung the club, the club would not be interfered with by the cart path, and mark that spot with a tee, again making sure that the spot is no closer to the hole than where my ball lies. I now measure from each tee to the ball and whichever tee is closer to the ball, then that is my nearest point of relief.
Great, I've found my nearest point of relief from the obstruction and it's on the left side of the cart path so no tree limb issue for me. Now I apply Rule 20-2 and measure one club length from the tee which identified the nearest point of relief, and I can use my longest club so I get out my driver, and then I put the handle of the driver up next to the tee in the rough and I drop the driver to the ground, keeping the head of the driver so that it won't be closer to the hole than my nearest point of relief, and I place another tee, which is in a place where the rough isn't as dense. Now I can drop the ball in the area between those two tees which, if I were to swing my driver in an arc while it's on the ground using the tee in the heavy rough as the anchor point, the ensuing pattern would result in an arc of 90 degrees. The rules now permit me to drop my ball anywhere in that arc.
I now pick up my ball from the cart path, and I clean it, and wanting the absolute best lie for my shot, I drop THE ball just inside that tee I placed in the lighter rough. The ball hits the ground and bounces up and forward about an inch and comes to rest right next to the tee. Now what do I do? It bounced closer to the hole than from where it had hit the ground so I guess I need to re-drop, right? And my tee caused the ball to stop, so I guess I have to re-drop, right? …………Let's see.
We'll first look at the ball resting against the tee. Rule 20-2a requires a re-drop when the ball being dropped "touches any person or the equipment of any player before or after it strikes a part of the course and before it comes to rest, the ball must be re-dropped without penalty." Well, the ball hit my tee and that's my equipment, isn't it? To be sure we need to go to the Definitions of the Rules of Golf. Found in the front of the rule book we find all sorts of great information and under Equipment we have the following: "Equipment" is anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player's caddie, except: 1) any ball that the player has played at the hole being played, and 2) any small object, such as a coin or a tee, when used to mark the position of the ball or the extent of an area in which a ball is to be dropped. Guess what? My tee IS NOT EQUIPMENT in this instance, so no re-drop because the ball ran into the tee.
Well, what about the ball bouncing forward towards the hole about an inch from where it hit the ground? Rule 20-2(c)(vii)(b) is where I can find the answer. That rule indicates that unless the ball ROLLED CLOSER TO THE HOLE THAN THE NEAREST POINT OF RELIEF, I don't have to re-drop. Because the ball rolled right up next to the tee, and because the tee I used wasn't placed closer to the hole THAN the nearest point of relief, I don't have to re-drop for that reason either.
Good thing I didn't pick up my ball to re-drop it. That would have been moving a ball at rest that was in play and that would have resulted in a violation of Rule 18-2 and a penalty stroke. Glad I had my rule book with me so I could understand what I needed to safely do.
OK, not wanting to hit that tee I used to mark the outer boundary of where I can drop the ball, I now pick up that tee and………oh no…the ball just moved………now what?
You'll have to wait until next month for the answer to that dilemma. Hit em straight and see you at the Muni.