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Burning golf question answered: Is it OK to drop a second ball during a friendly match?

June 02, 2016

The familiar scenario goes something like this: You are playing a friendly match. Your opponent has a simple 9-iron into the green, but he pulls his approach into the bunker. Exasperated, frustrated, whatever you want to call it, your opponent throws down another ball, and hits a second shot for practice.

By the letter of the rules, this is a violation (Rule 7-2: "A player must not make a practice stroke during play of a hole.") OK, fine, but really, very few of us play weekend rounds of golf by the letter of the rules anyway. Instead the better question is whether this is a breach of etiquette.


In other words, when your opponent drops a second ball during a hole, Are you OK with it?

To get to the bottom of this debate, we first put the question to our followers on Twitter, where admittedly the demographics skew a bit younger. Nonetheless, the prevailing sentiment was a little extra practice is fine.

But a tougher crowd to please is a group of Golf Digest editors. Their thoughts? Well, as usual, they didn't unanimously agree. Some were OK with it. Some found such liberal dropping an affront to the integrity of the game. Who's right? We'll let you sift through the responses to decide for yourself.

Max Adler, deputy editor: Relax. Ben Hogan said golf and tournament golf are as alike as baseball and hockey, so if you’re not playing in an official event, who cares? Take another shot as long as you do it quickly.

Peter Morrice, senior editor: Negative. Only with my kids do I play hit till you’re happy.

Ashley Mayo, senior editor: Yep, I’d be totally OK with it. Ideally, however, he’d ask me if it was OK to hit a second shot just for practice. If an opponent asks to hit a practice shot and explains that the first shot is the one he’ll play, I can’t imagine too many golfers would deny his wish.

Stephen Hennessey, associate editor: The only case I’d not be OK with this if I’m looking to pick up some competitive advantage. And let’s not kid ourselves -- if you’re not playing for serious money or in a tournament, you shouldn’t care in the least about one practice shot. Once it gets to two practice shots, then it’s time to put the foot down.

Stina Sternberg, global golf director: Seriously, why would anyone NOT be OK with that during a casual match? It takes 10 seconds, it doesn’t count toward the match, and it might make your friend feel better about himself and have more fun going forward. Lighten up, people.

Mike Stachura, senior editor: Here’s the thing: This is not a driving range. I didn’t come out here to watch you hit balls. The do-over suggests you’re desperately trying to prove to me that you’re actually not that bad, that you’re better than me, cooler. Golf is about accepting and then recovering from our mistakes. Grow a pair, suffer in silence and vow to get better. Otherwise, find some other tool who tolerates your sense of superiority. You’ve just become someone I want to be around less than that rutabaga who shouts 'Bababooey!' after pros hit their tee shots. I’ll play alone, thank you. With one ball.

Mike Johnson, senior editor: As long as the group behind isn't crawling up your back you can hit a small bucket for all I care.

Joel Beall, assistant editor: Sure. For those worried the opponent is gaining an advantage by working out their kinks, sprinkle in gamesmanship: 'Hmm, your first swing looked a lot better.'