When Necessary to Find and Identify Ball Deemed Unplayable
Q.A player hits his tee shot into a deep canyon. The player immediately deems the ball unplayable and plays another ball from the tee under the stroke-and-distance option of Rule 28. May a player deem unplayable a ball which has not been found?
A.Yes. A player may proceed under the stroke-and-distance option (Rule 28a) without finding his ball.
However, since Rules 28b and 28c require reference to where the ball lay, the player must find and identify his ball in order to proceed under either of these options.
Player Deems First Ball from Tee Unplayable, Abandons Provisional Ball and Claims He Is Lying Three with Third Ball
Q.A player hit his tee shot deep into the woods on the right. The player then hit a provisional ball into the same woods. The player did not search for either ball.
The player deemed his first ball unplayable, said he was abandoning his provisional ball and hit a third ball from the tee. The player maintained that his third ball was in play and that he was lying 3. He based his argument on Rule 28, which states that the player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable, and on Decision 28/1, which says in effect that a player may proceed under the stroke-and-distance option of the unplayable ball Rule without finding his ball. The Committee ruled that the player's stroke with the third ball was his fifth stroke, but the wording of Decision 28/1 leaves a little doubt. Did the Committee rule correctly?
A.Yes. The player may not deem the first ball from the tee unplayable, disregard the provisional ball and put another ball into play under a stroke-and-distance penalty because, having played the provisional ball, he must find the original ball before he can deem it unplayable. Unless the original ball was found, the provisional ball would automatically become the ball in play.
This case differs from Decision 28/1. No provisional ball was played in that case.
Ball Dropped Under Unplayable Ball Rule Comes to Rest in Original Position or Another Position at Which Ball Is Unplayable
Q.A player deemed his ball unplayable and, under Rule 28c, dropped his ball within two club-lengths of the spot where it lay. The ball came to rest in the original position or another position at which the ball was unplayable. What is the ruling?
A.The ball was in play when it was dropped – Rule 20-4. Thus, if the ball came to rest in the original position, the player must again invoke the unplayable ball Rule, incurring an additional penalty stroke, unless he decides to play the ball as it lies. The same applies if the ball came to rest in another position at which it was unplayable, assuming that the ball did not roll into a position covered by Rule 20-2c, in which case re-dropping without penalty would be required.
• 28/6.5 Player Deems Ball Unplayable a Second Time and Wishes to Proceed Under Stroke and Distance After Dropping a Ball Under Other Unplayable Option.
Ball Deemed Unplayable Through the Green Dropped in Hazard
Q.A player's ball lies through the green. The player deems the ball unplayable. In proceeding under Rule 28b or 28c, the player drops a ball in a hazard. Is this permissible?
• 20-7/3 Whether Player May Drop Ball into Area from Which Play Prohibited.
• 25-1b/14.5 Ball Deemed Unplayable Dropped in Ground Under Repair from Which Play Prohibited; Ball Then Dropped Under Ground Under Repair Rule.
Ball Deemed Unplayable Through the Green Dropped in Water Hazard; Player Elects Not to Play Ball and Wishes to Proceed Under the Water Hazard Rule
Q.With regard to Decision 28/4, if the player drops a ball into a lateral water hazard and the ball rolls into a position where the player is unable to play the ball, how should he proceed?
A.The player's only option is to proceed under Rule 26-1a.
As the player deliberately dropped the ball directly into the water hazard "the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard" cannot be identified. Therefore, in the absence of this reference point, neither Rule 26-1b nor 26-1c can be applied.
• 26-1/2 Player Proceeding Under Water Hazard Rule Drops Ball in Another Hazard.
Regression Under Unplayable Ball Rule
Q.A player plays a stroke from Point A to Point B. Point B is in an area from which it is very difficult to extricate the ball. The player considers deeming the ball unplayable but this would result in a stroke-and-distance penalty (Rule 28a). Dropping behind under Rule 28b is impossible due to a boundary fence and dropping within two club-lengths under Rule 28c is not feasible because it would require a considerable number of such drops to escape the area. The player plays from Point B and moves the ball a few feet to Point C, where the ball is clearly unplayable. Under Rule 28a, may the player:
(a) deem the ball unplayable at Point C and drop a ball under penalty of one stroke at Point B, and then
(b) deem the ball unplayable at Point B and drop a ball, under an additional penalty of one stroke, at Point A?
A.No. Under Rule 28a, the player would be entitled to drop a ball only at the place from which he played his last stroke (Point B).
In the circumstances, the player's only alternative is to invoke Rule 28c a sufficient number of times (starting at Point C and dropping the ball sideways within two club-lengths each time) to get the ball into a playable position.
Player Plays Second Shot, Deems Ball Unplayable and Returns to Tee
Q.With regard to Decision 28/5, if Point A is the teeing ground and Point B is the spot from which the second shot was played, what is the penalty if the player, having deemed his ball unplayable at Point C, returns to the tee and plays out the hole from there?
A.The player was entitled to drop and play a ball at Point B under Rule 28a, but not Point A. When he played a ball from Point A, he played from a wrong place.
In match play, the player incurs a penalty of loss of hole for a breach of Rule 28 – see also Rule 20-7b.
In stroke play, a serious breach of Rule 28 is involved. Accordingly, the player is disqualified unless the serious breach is corrected as provided in Rule 20-7c.
Except in the special circumstances covered by Rule 26-2, the Rules do not allow a player to regress beyond the spot from which his last stroke was played, in this case Point B. Such action may constitute a serious breach, as in this case.
Player Deems Ball Unplayable a Second Time and Wishes to Proceed Under Stroke and Distance After Dropping a Ball Under Other Unplayable Option
Q.A player plays a stroke from Point A to Point B. The player deems his ball unplayable and proceeds under either Rule 28b or 28c. After dropping under penalty of one stroke, the ball comes to rest at Point C. The player deems his ball unplayable for a second time and wishes to proceed under Rule 28a, playing from Point A. Is this permissible?
A.Yes. The player may play from Point A because he did not make a stroke at the ball from either Point B or Point C. Point A was the spot from which the original ball was last played. The player would incur a total of two penalty strokes.
• 28/3 Ball Dropped Under Unplayable Ball Rule Comes to Rest in Original Position or Another Position at Which Ball Is Unplayable.
Player Misses Ball and Deems It Unplayable
Q.A player's tee shot comes to rest in tree roots. He makes a stroke, fails to move the ball and then deems the ball unplayable. May the player return to the tee, playing 4, under Rule 28a?
A.No. Rule 28a permits the player to play "a ball ... at the spot from which the original ball was last played." The original ball was last played from the tree roots, not the tee.
Ball Deemed Unplayable; Place from Which Previous Stroke Played Is Nearer Hole
Q.A player's ball strikes a rock and bounces farther away from the hole than the spot from which the stroke was played. The player deems the ball unplayable. May the player invoke the stroke-and-distance option of Rule 28 in the circumstances?
Ball Lying on Grass-Covered Ground Within Bunker Deemed Unplayable
Q.A player's ball is lying on grass-covered ground within a bunker. The player deems the ball unplayable and elects to drop it under Rule 28b. Must he drop it in the bunker?
A.No. Grass-covered ground within a bunker is not part of the bunker. Accordingly, the player may drop the ball behind the bunker.
Ball Dropped Outside Bunker Under Option Requiring Drop in Bunker
Q.In stroke play, a competitor deems his ball unplayable in a bunker and, purporting to proceed under Rule 28b or 28c, drops a ball outside the bunker and plays it. What is the ruling?
A.In this case, Rules 28b and 28c require that a ball be dropped in and played from the bunker. Generally, if the ball is played from outside the bunker, the penalty should be disqualification for a serious breach of Rule 28, unless rectified under Rule 20-7c. However, if the position of the ball after it is dropped out of the bunker is not substantially different from what it would have been if the competitor had invoked the stroke-and-distance option under Rule 28a, he incurs the penalty stroke prescribed by Rule 28 and an additional penalty of two strokes for a breach of that Rule, rather than disqualification.
Ball Unplayable in Tree and Player Opts to Drop Within Two Club-Lengths
Q.A player's ball is eight feet off the ground, lodged in a tree. The player deems the ball unplayable. May the player proceed under option c of Rule 28 which permits him to drop a ball within two club-lengths of where his ball lay unplayable?
A.Yes. The player would be entitled to drop a ball within two club-lengths of the point on the ground immediately below the place where the ball lay in the tree. In some instances this may allow the player to drop a ball on a putting green.
Ball Unplayable at Base of Cliff and Player Wishes to Drop Within Two Club-Lengths of Point Above Ball
Q.Under Decision 28/11, if a ball in a tree is deemed unplayable, the player may, under Rule 28c, drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot on the ground directly beneath where the ball lies.
Suppose a player deems unplayable a ball lying at the base of a cliff and wishes to proceed under Rule 28c. May the player drop a ball within two club-lengths of a point directly above where the ball lies in order to get himself onto the top of the cliff?
In Decision 28/11, the player was permitted to ignore vertical distance in taking relief under Rule 28c only because his ball was off the ground. In this case, the ball at the base of the cliff is on the ground.
Decisions related to 28/11 and 28/12:
• 24-2b/11 Ball Lying on Elevated Part of Immovable Obstruction.
• 25-1b/23 Ball Enters Burrowing Animal Hole Out of Bounds and Comes to Rest in Bounds.
• 25-1b/24 Ball Enters Burrowing Animal Hole in Bounds and Comes to Rest Out of Bounds.
• 25-1b/25 Ball Enters Burrowing Animal Hole in Bunker and Is Found Underneath Putting Green.
• 25-1b/25.5 Application of Exception to Rule 25-1b When Ball Lies Underground in Burrowing Animal Hole.
After Deeming Ball Unplayable and Lifting It, Player Discovers Ball Was in Ground Under Repair
Q.A player lifts his ball after deeming it unplayable and then discovers that the ball was lying in ground under repair. Does the deeming and the lifting of the ball commit the player to proceeding under Rule 28?
A.No. Provided the player has not put a ball into play under Rule 28, he is not precluded by that Rule from taking relief, without penalty, under the ground under repair Rule (Rule 25).
• 3-3/7.5 Competitor Announces Intention to Play Two Balls; Plays Original Ball Before Dropping Second Ball; Elects Not to Play Second Ball.
• 9-2/13 Player Who Told Opponent He Would Proceed Under Water Hazard Rule Changes Mind After Opponent Plays.
• 18-2a/12.5 Player Entitled to Relief Without Penalty from Condition Lifts Ball; Chooses Not to Take Relief and Wishes to Proceed Under the Unplayable Ball Rule.
• 18-2a/27.5 Player Who States He Will Proceed Under Unplayable Ball Rule Subsequently Assesses Possibility of Playing Ball as It Lies.
Stray Ball Deemed Unplayable Played Under Stroke-and-Distance Procedure; Original Ball Then Found
Q.A player finds a stray ball, which he mistakenly thinks is his, in a bad lie. He deems it unplayable and decides to adopt the procedure in Rule 28a. After going back, he plays the stray ball under penalty of stroke and distance at the spot from which his original ball was played. He then finds his original ball in a playable position. What is the ruling?
A.The original ball is lost and the stray ball played under penalty of stroke and distance is in play (Definition of "Lost Ball" and Rule 27-1).
The ruling would have been different if the player had decided to proceed under either Rule 28b or 28c – see Decision 28/15.
Stray Ball Deemed Unplayable, Dropped Within Two Club-Lengths and Played Before Error Discovered
Q.A player finds a stray ball, which he mistakenly thinks is his, in a bad lie. He deems it unplayable and decides to adopt the procedure in Rule 28c. He drops the stray ball within two club-lengths of the spot where it lay and plays it. He then finds his original ball in a playable position. In Decision 28/14 the basic situation is exactly the same, but in that case the player elected to proceed under Rule 28a and it was ruled that the stray ball played under penalty of stroke and distance was in play. What is the ruling in this case?
A.The procedures in Rules 28b and 28c may not be applied except with reference to the position of the player's ball in play, which must first be found and identified (see Decision 28/1). In the present case, the stray ball dropped and played by the player was not his original ball; it was a substituted ball. Since the location of the original ball was not known at the time the substituted ball was dropped, he was required to proceed under Rule 27-1. As the substituted ball was not dropped at the spot required by Rule 27-1, he played from a wrong place (see Decision 15/14).
In match play, he incurred a penalty of loss of hole (Rule 20-7b).
In stroke play, he incurred a penalty of one stroke under Rule 27-1 and an additional penalty of two strokes under Rule 20-7c for playing from a wrong place. If the breach was a serious one, he was subject to disqualification unless he corrected the error as provided in Rule 20-7c.
Decisions related to 28/14 and 28/15:
• 15/13 Stray Ball Dropped Under Unplayable Ball Rule But Not Played.
• 20-7c/3 Ball Believed to Be Lost in Bunker; Competitor Drops Another Ball in Bunker and Plays It; Original Ball Then Found Outside Bunker.