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Ball Unplayable - Frequently Asked Questions

1 – David’s ball is under a bush. He decides to declare the ball unplayable and elects option c under Rule 28. Must David drop the ball within two club-lengths of where the ball lies, or within two club-lengths of the edge of the bush?

David must drop the ball within two club-lengths of where the ball lies, no closer to the hole.


2 – May a player declare a ball in a hazard unplayable?

The answer depends on the type of hazard. If the ball is in a water hazard, the player may not declare the ball unplayable. He may play the ball as it lies, or proceed under the Water Hazard Rule (Rule 26-1).

If the unplayable ball lies in a bunker, the player may proceed under any of the options listed in Rule 28. However, if he elects option b or c, the ball must be dropped in the bunker.


3 – Ball dropped under unplayable rule and comes to rest in original position or another unplayable position, what is the ruling?

a. The ball was in play when dropped, Rule 20-4; thus if the ball came to rest in the original unplayable position, the player must/may invoke the unplayable rule incurring an additional penalty stroke unless he decides to play the ball as it lies

b. The same applies if it came to rest in another unplayable position (always assuming the ball did not roll to a position covered by Rule 20-2c – re-dropping without penalty required)


4. Ball deemed unplayable through the green dropped in a hazard

a. In proceeding under Rule 28b or 28c the player drops his ball in a hazard – this is permissible


b. The ball is dropped in a Water Hazard and the player unable to play the ball – the player’s only option is to proceed under Rule 26-1a (Stroke and Distance)


As the player deliberately dropped the ball directly into the Water Hazard, the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the Water Hazard cannot be identified. In the absence of this reference point, neither Rule 26-1b (“Straight Line) nor 26-1c ( Lateral Water Hazard options) can be applied.


5. Ball unplayable in a tree

May player opt to drop within two club-lengths?

Yes, the player may drop within two club-lengths of the point on the ground immediately below the place

where the ball lay in the tree. Rule 28c

NB: In some instances this may allow the player to drop on a putting green


6. After deeming ball unplayable and lifting it the player discovers that the ball is in Ground Under Repair. Must the player proceed under Rule 28?

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 GUR Rule.

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