June - 2017

RULE 20-2(c)(vii)
When to Re-Drop (when the ball rolls closer to the hole)

Back in February we were discussing the various scenarios that arise when considering if we have to re-drop a dropped ball when, like skunk spray in the face, the USGA hit all of us golfers with an announcement regarding suggested major changes to the Rules of Golf. So I interrupted the discussion on Rule 20-2(c) and provided you with information relevant to those changes and also encouraged you to make your ideas known to the USGA about those changes. Hopefully you contacted the USGA with your thoughts and perhaps with ideas of your own as to how the Rules of Golf could become more user friendly. If not, anyone interested in offering feedback or a suggestion on the proposed new rule changes can submit their views through usga.org/rules or by e-mail to rules@usga.org, or even by phone at 908-326-1850.

Then,…….Lexi Thompson lost a major tournament when she got penalized because of a living room rules official calling into The Golf Channel about a possible rules infraction that she may have incurred. So we analyzed that incident, compared it to the proposed changes to the Rules of Golf, and then reviewed the USGA's immediate response to the incident through the publication of a new Decision on the Rules of Golf.

The Golf World has really been busy, especially as it relates to the Rules of Golf, but let's get back to where we were in February. We were playing the 3rd hole at the Muni and took relief from the cart path and then we determined we had a valid drop, but as we picked up the tee used to mark the span of the drop area, the ball, lying next to that tee, moved. Did we just incur a penalty under Rule 18-2 because we moved a ball at rest and in play? Rule 18-2 does indicate that if the player's equipment causes the ball to move then we incur a penalty of one stroke. But wait! Under the Definitions of the Rules of Golf we found out that the tee isn't our equipment at that point. So what is the tee? Well, it's artificial, meaning its man made. So the tee when used to measure a span to drop a ball becomes a movable obstruction. In reviewing Rule 18-2 we find that when removing a movable obstruction if the ball is moved because we moved the obstruction then no penalty ensues and we merely replace the ball at its prior location.

Let's advance the play to a round at Arroyo Trabuco, hole number 13, you know that long par 3 over the pond? Well, if that hole is unfamiliar to you, then head to the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Course website and look at the course map. From just about any of the tees, if the hole is located on the back part of the green, your tee shot will have to cross over water. And sure enough, it's one of those days, our Titleist has decided to take a swim. So, we walk over to the place where the ball So, we walk over to the place where the ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard and extend our driver over the span of two club lengths starting at the red line and in a way so that the arc of those two club lengths does not go closer to the hole than where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, and then placed a tee at the outermost part of the arc so we can define the area of drop, and then dropped A ball within the arc. When we drop the ball in the arc, the ball can bounce forward, closer to the hole, and the drop will still be valid as long as the ball ends up no closer to the hole than the spot at which the ball LAST CROSSED THE MARGIN OF THE HAZARD.

But wait a second, that hole has a drop zone……..and the drop zone is closer to the hole than where I would have to drop the ball…….and the drop zone permits me to hit my next shot without having to cross any water. I'd be a fool if I didn't play from the drop zone. Too late if I dropped a ball back where we measured as now that ball would be the ball in play, but I didn't, I only measured. So I pick up my driver and my tee and head over to the drop area. Now, I dropped the ball within the confines of the drop area, but it rolled forward, closer to the hole, and it even rolled out of the defined drop area as noted by a white line. Is my drop valid?

I can't use the "closer to the hole than where it last crossed the margin of the hazard" part of the rule because the whole drop zone is closer to the hole than where my ball last crossed the margin of the hazard. So where can I find the answers to these two questions? If we're smart we carry one of those books entitled The Rules of Golf with us when we play. In the alternative, if we have a cell phone we can call the pro shop and ask them, but we are carrying the rule book and Rule 20-2, at almost the very bottom of the last page of that rule, indicates that when using a dropping zone to see Appendix 1; Part B, Section 8. So I go to that part of the rule book and it refers to Transportation. What????? Folks, I believe the reference listed at the bottom of Rule 20-2 is in error. The proper reference should be to Appendix 1; Part A; Section 6. In that part of the Appendix we can find the answers to both of my questions. As to the ball rolling closer to the hole from where it hit the ground when I dropped it…..subparagraph (f) of the rule in the Appendix indicates that's OK. As to the ball rolling out of the defined drop zone….sub-paragraph (d) of the rule in the Appendix indicates that's OK too as long as it didn't roll more than two club lengths from where it hit the ground. And sub-paragraph (g) of the rule in the Appendix indicates that the place from where I'm now playing is OK even if that place is closer than the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard. So, we're in business….the ball is in play and we're good to go.

I hope this litany over the past several months has helped you in your understanding of when to re-drop and when not to re-drop. If not, then feel free to contact me with any questions regarding this or any other Rule of Golf. Hope to see you at the Muni.