Watch a pro tournament and sooner or later you'll see a golfer take a drop, and then pick up the ball and drop it again. Rule 20-2a details seven situations when a drop isn't satisfactory and the player should take a do-over:
RE-DROP: If the ball is dropped in a hazard but rolls out and comes to rest outside the hazard.
RE-DROP: If the ball is dropped outside a hazard but comes to rest inside a hazard.
RE-DROP: If the ball rolls onto a putting green and stops.
RE-DROP:If the ball rolls and comes to rest out-of-bounds.
RE-DROP: If the ball rolls and comes to rest where there is interference by the condition from which relief was taken, such as a cartpath (immovable obstruction), an animal hole (abnormal ground condition), another green, or if the ball rolls back into its pitch mark.
RE-DROP: If the ball rolls and comes to rest more than two club-lengths from where it first struck a part of the course.
RE-DROP: If the ball rolls and comes to rest closer to the hole than its original spot or estimated spot, nearest point of relief, or maximum available relief, or where the ball last crossed the margin of a water hazard.
NOTE: If the ball you re-drop is lost or can't be immediately recovered from the water, you can substitute without penalty. If the ball you re- drop rolls into any position listed above, it must be placed as near as possible on the spot where it first struck the course. You don't get to re-drop because your ball came to rest in a worse lie or because it rolled outside the drop zone after landing.
FAST FACTS: If a ball falls off a tee before you make a stroke, you may replace it without penalty. . . . Unless there's a Local Rule, you aren't entitled to relief from an aeration hole. . . . The max length for a tee is four inches.
Q: I just got back from Ireland and want to input my scores to update my handicap. How do I do it?
A: I'm sorry to say that you can't. In 1926, the R&A turned over handicapping in the British Isles to CONGU (Council of National Golf Unions), and CONGU doesn't use our Slope system to determine handicaps. Scores recorded on courses in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales are useless to our handicap system. But scores from Scotland can be posted because the Scottish Golf Union created Course and Slope ratings. They're on my website: popeofslope.com.
By Dean Knuth, Golf Digest Professional Advisor. Former senior director of the USGA handicap department, Knuth invented today's Course Rating and Slope system.
It Happened On Tour
THE PILOT During the second round of the Valero Texas Open in May, David Duval's tee shot finished near the grandstands on the par-3 17th. Because the stands are considered a temporary immovable obstruction that interfered with his next shot--a greenside chip--he was allowed to lift his ball without penalty and move it to a spot where the stands would not be in the way. Duval consulted with a PGA Tour rules official to determine the drop spot. He then grabbed the ball, held his arm out at chest height and dropped the ball.
THE VERDICT Before Duval played his next shot, rules official Slugger White had him re-drop, without penalty. The reason was that Duval had not extended his arm to shoulder height when he made the drop. Rule 20-2a says a player must stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm's length and drop it. And if an improper drop is not corrected, the player will incur a one-stroke penalty. Duval re-dropped, chipped his ball onto the green and saved par. He shot 69 and finished T-63 for the tournament.