Most of your shots during a round will be made from the fairway or rough, which are part of an area of the golf course called the “general area.” This area includes everywhere on the course except bunkers, penalty areas, and the teeing area and putting green of the hole you are playing. In the general area, you will normally play your ball as it lies, but you get free relief for an embedded ball or interference by an abnormal course condition (including artificial structures, temporary water, and ground under repair). Click here to learn how to take free relief from abnormal course conditions.
If you can’t play your ball as it lies in the general area, you can always take unplayable ball relief. Under this Rule, you can choose between three different relief options that allow you to drop your original ball or another ball out of your original lie for one penalty stroke. The three options are: stroke and distance, back-on-the-line between your ball and the hole, or lateral relief within two club-lengths of your ball. Click here for a short video that will show you how these three relief options work.
You have three minutes to find your ball. If it is not found, it is lost and you must go back to play under stroke and distance.
- I have interference from an out of bounds fence, stake or wall – what are my options?
- My ball is in a fairway in a puddle of water (temporary water) – what are my options?
- My ball is stuck in the ground (embedded) – what are my options?
- I think my ball is stuck in the ground, but I can’t find it – how do I proceed?
- May I remove an out of bounds stake?
- I can’t find my ball after searching for three minutes – what are my options?
- My ball is in ground under repair – what are my options?
- Another ball interferes with my play – what are my options?
- I don’t think I can play my ball as it lies (unplayable) – what are my options?
- I have interference from a cart path, sprinkler head or other artificial object (immovable obstruction) – what are my options?