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R & A Rules of Golf


Rule 28 – Ball Unplayable


Where may a player deem his ball unplayable?


A player can deem his ball unplayable any place on the course except when the ball is in a Water Hazard. The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable.

If the player deems his ball to be unplayable, he must, under penalty of one stroke:

a. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5) or

b. Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind that point the ball may be dropped; or

c. Drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole.


Ball Unplayable in a Bunker


If the unplayable ball is in a bunker, the player may proceed under Clause a, b or c. If he elects to proceed under Clause b or c, a ball must be dropped in the bunker.

When proceeding under this Rule, the player may lift and clean his ball or substitute a ball.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE: Match play — Loss of Hole; Stroke play — Two Strokes.


Q & A


If a player chooses to take relief under Rule 28c, i.e. drop a ball within two club-lengths but no nearer the hole, where does he measure the two club-lengths from?

The area in which to drop the ball under Rule 28c must be measured from where the ball lies, not from the outer edge of the perceived unplayable condition.


When is it necessary to find and identify ball deemed unplayable

a. A player may proceed under the stroke and distance option, Rule 28a, without finding his ball

b. 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.

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