Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Reference Points in the Rules

    When taking relief under the Rules, in order to get the ball in the right place you must operate using the correct reference point.  There are various reference points used throughout the Rules, and they are frequently misused in casual golf discussions.  Following is an overview of the reference points used and how they function in the Rules of golf.
     How various reference points are used can also be grouped into three categories: areas, lines and spots.  After reviewing the types of reference points we'll go through how those reference points fit into the three categories.

The Nearest Point of Relief:
     The nearest point of relief is the only reference point that is actually a defined term under the Rules of Golf.  The nearest point of relief is the reference point for relief under Rules 24-2 (Immovable Obstructions), 25-1 (Abnormal Ground Conditions) and 25-3 (Wrong Putting Green). Those are the ONLY three Rules where the nearest point of relief is used.

The Last Crossing Point:
     The point where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard is the reference point for relief under Rules 26-1b or c (Relief for Ball in Water Hazard). When taking relief from a water hazard the line of flight is never used, nor is the place where the ball first crossed the margin.

Where the Ball Originally Lay:
     Where the ball originally lay is the reference point for relief under Rules 28b or c (Ball Unplayable) and also the penalized relief options under Rules 24-2b and 25-1b.

The Original or Estimated Original Position:
     When proceeding under stroke and distance or under any Rule where the stroke is cancelled and replayed from the previous spot, the original position (if known) or estimated position will be the reference point. 

Where the Ball Lay Embedded:
     Another incarnation of where the ball originally lay, the reference point for relief under Rule 25-2 (Ball Embedded) is where the ball lay embedded.

Point of Maximum Available Relief:
     As an additional option for relief when complete relief is not available from an abnormal ground condition in a bunker or on the putting green, Rule 25-1b allows the player to drop or place (as applicable to the part of the course) as near as possible to (or at) the point of maximum available relief.

Each of these various reference points are used in a variety of ways depending on which option of a Rule a player decides to use. (The drop must always be no nearer the hole than the reference point).

Areas:
When taking relief through the green or in a bunker (or on the teeing ground if it ever happens) under Rules 24-2 and 25-1, the player must drop the ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief.  Relief for a wrong putting green is also a drop within one club-length of the nearest point of relief.  This is the most well-known relief procedure (cart path relief) but players rarely realize they are entitled to drop the ball anywhere within the entire area that is within one club-length of the nearest point of relief.

When taking relief form a lateral water hazard under Rule 26-1c or for a ball unplayable under Rule 28c, the player is permitted to drop within two club-lengths of the applicable reference point. Anywhere in that two club-length area no nearer the hole than the reference point is fair game.

Lines:
Under several Rules the player is permitted to drop the ball on a line created by keeping the reference point directly between the point where the ball is dropped and the hole.  This is frequently referred to as the "flagline."  Dropping on the flagline will always be penalized relief.  Under Rule 26-1b the relief must be taken using the last crossing point as the reference point and must be dropped behind the hazard.  Under Rules 24-2b, 25-1b and 28b, the reference point is where the ball originally lay.  What is unique here is that the flagline option under Rule 24-2b and 25-1b is used to help get a player OUT of the bunker, whereas under Rule 28b if the ball originally lay in the bunker, when dropping on the flagline the ball must be dropped IN the bunker.

Spots:
Although the previous options are probably the most well-known, the most abundant form of relief is to drop or place as near as possible to or on a spot.  When taking relief under Rules 24-2 or 25-1 when the ball was on the putting green, the ball will be placed at the nearest point of relief.  There is no one club-length leeway.  Under those same Rules, when invoking the maximum available relief option, the ball is dropped or placed (as applicable to bunker or putting green) as near as possible to (or at) that point, not within one club-length.

When proceeding under stroke and distance (whether under Rule 27-1, 26-1a or 28a), the player must drop the ball as near as possible to the original spot (or estimated original spot).

When taking relief for an embedded ball under Rule 25-2, the player must drop the ball as near as possible to where the ball originally lay embedded.  There is no one club-length leeway.

Local Rules will also frequently use spots for relief rather than giving a specified area.

So once we see what the reference points are and how they function in various ways, it is easy to see why it is important to know which reference point applies to your situation.  But there is one more reason: Rule 20-2c.  The seventh and final event requiring a re-drop under Rule 20-2c is if the dropped ball rolls closed to the hole than.... the reference point.

There are various scenarios where the ball can roll closer to the hole and a re-drop is not required:
 - Dropping under Rule 26-1b well behind the last crossing point.
 - Dropping under Rule 28b well behind where the ball originally lay

There are also scenarios where the ball could not roll closer than where it originally lay, but a re-drop is required because it rolled closer to the hole than the reference point:
- The ball rolls closer to the hole than the nearest point of relief, but not nearer than where it originally lay.
- The ball rolls closer to the hole than the last crossing point, but not nearer than where it came to rest in the water hazard.

Knowing which reference point applies is key to understanding whether a re-drop is required when the ball bounces forward.

No comments:

Post a Comment