I have received a request to cover the subject of Dropping Zones. The first point I will make is that there is nothing in the 34 Rules of Golf ruling on Dropping Zones. However, if the Committee considers that it is not feasible or practicable to proceed in accordance with a Rule providing relief (e.g. from immovable obstructions, abnormal ground conditions or water hazards) it may establish Dropping Zones in which balls may or must be dropped when taking relief. Generally, such Dropping Zones should be provided as an additional relief option to those available under the Rule itself, rather than being mandatory.
The procedures for using Dropping Zones depend on the exact wording of the Local Rule. In Appendix l, Part B, 8, the Ruling Bodies have provided this specimen wording, using the example of a Dropping Zone for a water hazard;
"If a ball is in or it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard (specify location), the player may:A question that is often asked is whether a player may drop a ball in a Dropping Zone at a place that is nearer to the hole than where their ball lies. The answer is that they can, providing there is nothing in the wording of the Local Rule stating otherwise. A Committee is not prohibited from imposing this restriction. Although this principle is not referred to in the specimen Local Rule above there is reference to it in the recommended Local Rule for Temporary Immovable Obstructions (which are generally only applicable for tour events);
(i) proceed under Rule 26; or
(ii) as an additional option, drop a ball, under penalty of one stroke, in the Dropping Zone.
PENALTY FOR BREACH OF LOCAL RULE:
Match play - Loss of hole; Stroke play - Two strokes."
Note: When using a Dropping Zone the following provisions apply regarding the dropping and re-dropping of the ball:
(a) The player does not have to stand within the Dropping Zone when dropping the ball.
(b) The dropped ball must first strike a part of the course within the Dropping Zone.
(c) If the Dropping Zone is defined by a line, the line is within the Dropping Zone.
(d) The dropped ball does not have to come to rest within the Dropping Zone.
(e) The dropped ball must be re-dropped if it rolls and comes to rest in a position covered by Rule 20-2c(i-vi).
(f) The dropped ball may roll nearer the hole than the spot where it first struck a part of the course, provided it comes to rest within two club-lengths of that spot and not into any of the positions covered by (e).
(g) Subject to the provisions of (e) and (f), the dropped ball may roll and come to rest nearer the hole than:
• its original position or estimated position (see Rule 20-2b);
• the nearest point of relief or maximum available relief (Rule 24-2, 24-3, 25-1 or 25-3); or
• the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard or lateral water hazard (Rule 26-1).
If the player has interference from a TIO, the Committee may permit or require the use of a Dropping Zone. If the player uses a Dropping Zone in taking relief, he must drop the ball in the Dropping Zone nearest to where his ball originally lay or is deemed to lie under Clause IV (even though the nearest Dropping Zone may be nearer the hole).
Let me finish by reminding you that the Local Rule reproduced above is a specimen Local Rule that is found in Appendix B at the back of the Rules book. Players who encounter a Dropping Zone on a course must check the exact wording of the Local Rule in operation. Of course, it is advisable to read all the Local Rules before commencing a round on any new course.
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