You’re in the thick stuff and you want to take lateral relief for an unplayable ball. What if two club lengths doesn’t do the job? Our Rules of Golf expert is here to help
A hook or a slice and a ball that’s heading right into the middle of a thick bush. Or trees. Or a hedge. A scenario we know all too well.
We also know that we’re not Seve either and so, a lot of the time, we’re not silly enough to think about playing it as it lies. We’re going to be declaring an unplayable ball.
If you’ll forgive me teaching you all to suck eggs, you’ve got three usual options for unplayable ball relief – stroke-and-distance, back-on-the-line relief, and lateral relief. I say usual, because there’s also another way if you find yourself really stuck in a bunker.
I want to focus on lateral relief here, though, as a question that repeatedly pops up in my emails is: “What if two club lengths is not enough?”
If you’re deep in the cabbage and wondering what you do in this situation then read on…
Unplayable ball rule: When taking two club lengths will not be enough
Remember if you decide to take lateral relief for an unplayable ball using Rule 19 then the reference point for doing that is the spot of the original ball.
From there you will measure out your two club lengths and there will be occasions when taking this course of action won’t be enough to clear the foliage.
Anyhow, if you don’t fancy stroke-and-distance, or back-on-the-line just sends you deeper into trouble, can you take lateral relief more than once if you want – or indeed need – to?
Yes, you can.
You can take lateral relief for an unplayable ball as many times as you need. Each time you do it, though, it’s going to cost you a penalty stroke.
A clarification to Rule 19.2 explains more. It says there is no guarantee a ball will be playable after taking unplayable ball relief and uses the example of when a dropped ball goes back into its original position or finds a bad lie in another location in the relief area.
The clarification reports that “once the dropped ball comes to rest in the relief area, the player has a new situation”.
So if you can’t, or really don’t want to, play it as it now lies you can take unplayable ball relief once again and you can use any “available relief option” under Rule 19.
Got a question for our Rules of Golf expert?
Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.
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