The Loop

Rules Violation: We're Assessed a Penalty

November 21, 2007

We got a lot of mail about our rules story, "Is this allowed?" in the December issue -- because it's wrong.

Situation No. 5 reads:

Your playing partner hits his ball into a water hazard. Rather than play it, he takes a penalty drop, and his ball rolls into a bunker. He then hits the shot.

Permissible? We said "yes"; the answer is "no". Charles Nuxoll of Sun City Center, FL, was one of several readers who caught the mistake.

If a player takes a penalty drop from a water hazard  and the ball rolls into a bunker the ball must be re-dropped.  Rule  20-2.c.(i). The referenced decision 26-1/2, applies only to Rule 26-1b, dropping a ball on a line between the flag stick and the spot on which the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard. In the question the ball rolled INTO the hazard. In the answer the ball was dropped IN the hazard. Different situations, different answers.

Rule 20-2 reads:

A dropped ball must be re-dropped without penalty if it:

(i) rolls into and comes to rest in a hazard

No matter that it's a different hazard than the one from which the player is taking relief, it's still not allowed.

Thanks also to Phil Bridges of Starkville, MS; Jack Morehead of Jacksonville, FL; and Bryan Lewis of South Haven, MI, among others, for pointing out that we, uh, dropped the ball on this one.

--Bob Carney