The most commonly misunderstood rules in golf

Published 24/08/2009 19:27:14

Take the teeing ground. Most golfers know that the width of the area is defined by markers and that the depth is two clublengths. You can tee the ball up anywhere in that imaginary rectangle, and even take your stance outside it. But you cannot stand inside the rectangle and tee up the ball outside it.

If your ball falls of the tee, or you knock it before properly setting up for your shot, you can replace it without penalty. But if you swing and miss, then accidentally knock it off, you have to take a penalty stroke. And even if the ball doesn't move, your airshot counts.


Playing a provisional


If you think your ball might be lost, you can play a "provisional". But you must declare this clearly to your playing partners. If you do not, the second ball you hit will automatically become the one in play and the first will be presumed lost. In that case, you have now played your third shot, because the penalty for a lost ball is stroke plus distance.

If after your allotted five minutes you cannot find your ball, carry on playing the provisional, taking the one-stroke penalty. However, if you do find the original ball, the provisional is discarded and you have not suffered a lost stroke.


Water hazards


When a ball lands in or touches a water hazard (marked by yellow stakes), or is lost in one, you have three options.

  1. Play the ball as it lies, if possible.
  2. Replay your strike from the original spot, adding a penalty stroke.
  3. Go back as far as you like before dropping, keeping the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard between you and the hole - adding a penalty stroke. The line of flight is not important - only where the ball entered the hazard


Lateral hazards


The same options apply if your ball goes into a lateral hazard (marked by red stakes), but there are two more to be taken into consideration.

The first choice might be to drop within two clublengths of where the ball last cross the margin of the hazard, but no nearer the hole. The second, and more misunderstood, option is to drop within two clublengths of a point on the other side of the hazard, equidistant from the hole.

Many people go to a point on the opposite side of the hazard. But if the hazard runs along the side of the fairway, it will be at an angle to the green. In that case, a spot equidistant from the hole will not necessarily be directly opposite the original point of entry.


How to correctly drop a ball


Stand upright with your arm outstretched - or at right angles to your body - and drop the ball vertically from shoulder height.


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