Rule 19 - Unplayable Ball

Purpose of Rule: Rule 19 covers the player’s several relief options for an unplayable ball. This allows the player to choose which option to use – normally with one penalty stroke – to get out of a difficult situation anywhere on the course (except in a penalty area).

19.1  Player May Decide to Take Unplayable Ball Relief Anywhere Except Penalty Area

A player is the only person who may decide to treat his or her ball as unplayable by taking penalty relief under Rule 19.2 or 19.3.

19.2  Relief Options for Unplayable Ball in General Area or on Putting Green

A player may take unplayable ball relief using one of the three options in Rule 19.2a, b or c, in each case adding one penalty stroke.

a. Stroke-and-Distance Relief

The player may play the original ball or another ball from where the previous strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. was made (see Rule 14.6).

b. Back-On-the-Line Relief

The player may dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. the original ball or another ball (see Rule 14.3) in a relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors: that is based on a reference line going straight back from the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played: through the spot of the original ball:

c. Lateral Relief

The player may dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. the original ball or another ball in this lateral relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors: (see Rule 14.3):

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where the player is required or allowed to play his or her ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 19.2: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. Under Rule 14.7a.

19.3  Relief Options for Unplayable Ball in Bunker

a. Normal Relief Options (One Penalty Stroke)

When a player’s ball is in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.:

b. Extra Relief Option (Two Penalty Strokes)

As an extra relief option when a player’s ball is in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., for a total of two penalty strokes, the player may take back-on-the-line relief outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. under Rule 19.2b.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where the player is required or allowed to play his or her ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 19.3: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.  Under Rule 14.7a.