Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Dropping Zones
















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:
    (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).
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);
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.

Good golfing,
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25 comments:

WNHGA said...

Our association has a local rule regarding drop zones on a water hazard. If the drop zone is on the side of the water hazard that is closer to the hole (so the player does not have to hit over the hazard) and if the player elects to use the drop zone, the player adds two additional strokes to his score. One out, one over (both imaginary). Is this legal?

Barry Rhodes said...

WNHGA,

No, such a Local Rule is not permitted. Decision 33-8/2 is relevant;

"Q. The design of a hole is such that a player must hit the ball about 100 yards in order to carry a water hazard. A Local Rule has been adopted to assist players who cannot drive over the hazard by allowing them to drop a ball, under penalty of two strokes, in a dropping zone that is located across the hazard. Is such a Local Rule authorized?

A. No. Such a Local Rule substantially alters Rule 26-1b as it allows the player to drop a ball on a part of the course (i.e., on the green side of the water hazard) that the Rule would not have permitted him to reach. Furthermore, the penalty for taking relief under the water hazard Rule (Rule 26) is one stroke, and may not be increased to two strokes by a Committee through a Local Rule - see Rule 33-8b.


Barry

Paul said...

Our course has some carries that many have difficulty clearing. The local rule states "if, after two shots you have failed to get over the water hazard, you may drop your ball in the drop area across the hazard, under penalty of one additional stroke"

This would confer 3 penalty strokes in addition to the two strokes take for a total of 5. Is this allowed?

Barry Rhodes said...

Paul,

Such a Local Rule is not permitted under Rule 33-8. Decision 33-8/2 is relevant;

Q. The design of a hole is such that a player must hit the ball about 100 yards in order to carry a water hazard. A Local Rule has been adopted to assist players who cannot drive over the hazard by allowing them to drop a ball, under penalty of two strokes, in a dropping zone that is located across the hazard. Is such a Local Rule authorized?

A. No. Such a Local Rule substantially alters Rule 26-1b as it allows the player to drop a ball on a part of the course (i.e., on the green side of the water hazard) that the Rule would not have permitted him to reach. Furthermore, the penalty for taking relief under the water hazard Rule (Rule 26) is one stroke, and may not be increased to two strokes by a Committee through a Local Rule - see Rule 33-8b.


For those competitions in which some participating players are not able to carry the hazard, the tee markers should be place on the other side.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry,

Hi. I am one of the rules official working at one of the Asian countries. I have a simple question regarding the dropping zone and it would be grateful if you could answer my question.

Unlike Rule 20-2c which states that "if the ball when re-dropped rolls into any position listed above, it must be placed as near as possible to the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped," there is nothing in AppendixI 8 Dropping Zones section that states what to do when the re-dropped ball comes to rest in a position covered in Note(e)~(g). Should you keep re-dropping until it comes to rest in a correct place or place the ball as near as possible to the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped?

It would be a great help if you could answer this one. Thank you.

Rico

Barry Rhodes said...

Rico,

Where a Committee establishes a dropping zone with a Local Rule, Rule 20-2 applies to dropping a ball there, unless the wording of the Local Rule states otherwise, which would be very unusual and possibly not within the Rules.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry,

Thank you for the prompt reply. It's actually a relief for me that I now know it for sure.


Rico

Michael OMalley said...

Barry,
I am having real trouble finding the answer to this. USGA says it is local, and to ask them, none of the courses seem to know the answer.
Many of the courses that I play at all seem to have 'drop-zones' on most of the par 3s (and some par 4/5s). Almost all are because the carry from the tee is over a canyon. None of the canyons are marked as hazards. So the drop zones are intended to speed up play and not have people hitting multiple shots off the tee.
The question is is reference to when a player may use the drop zone. We have had players hit into the canyon, over the canyon into tall grass, well over the canyon but into the trees on the sides of the fairways, and even OB over the canyon to the right and left.
When can a player use the drop zone? The only thing that has consistency and makes sense is that they can use it for ANY tee shot regardless of where the ball went, because there is sometimes no seperation between canyons, or unknown where the ball actually went.
Any advice?

Barry Rhodes said...

Michael,

As you have already found out there can be no accurate answer to your question without knowing the exact wording of the Local Rule that establishes the dropping zones on the courses that you are referring to. There is no reference to Dropping Zones in the 34 Rules of Golf, so there has to be a Local Rule for each course stating when and how the dropping zone can be used.

I recommend that you read my blog on this subject, dated October 18th, 2011, which you may find useful.

Barry

john said...

Is there any rule that says a committee can set a local rule of a drop zone for a ball out of bounds?

Barry Rhodes said...

John,

Rule 33-8a states;

The Committee may establish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions if they are consistent with the policy set forth in Appendix I.

Part of Rule 33-8b states;
A Rule of Golf must not be waived by a Local Rule.

So, there are at least two reasons why a Committee is not permitted to make a Local Rule providing a drop zone for a ball that is out of bounds.

Barry

Gloria said...

I found my ball in a 2 inch deep footprint in a bunker recently . I would like to think that I could drop without penalty in the bunker from this 'animal spoor 'but know it probably has to be played as it lies! Can I send pictures to this site as I think you would be amazed at this one.

Barry Rhodes said...

Gloria,

There is no relief from footprints in a bunker, even if they are made by a burrowing animal.

I would be interested in seeing your photo. You can reach me at rules at barry rhodes dot com.

Regards,

Barry

Brad said...

Hi Barry
Just some clarification of a local club's lateral hazard. Dogleg left to right where if you do not take off enough of the dogleg you might shoot it straight over the fairway into the swamp marked by red stakes, however a touch too left and the stakes have not started. Is it fair to say that if you are "virtually certain" it carried the stakes you may drop within two clubs at point of entry, with a one stroke penalty? And on the flipside if you can't quite tell the entry point, it's reload off the box?

Thanks

Barry Rhodes said...

Brad,

Correct. If you cannot find your ball and do not know, or are not virtually certain that the ball is in a water hazard, you must treat the ball as lost. See my blog on the subject dated 14th October, 2014.

Barry

Clarence Vincent said...

If a course does have designated drop zone on a par 3 and a Golfer hits into the water hazards from the tee box where should the drop occur, before the hazard or on the green side.

Barry Rhodes said...

Clarence,

If I understand your question correctly, Decision 33-8/2 shows that a Committee may not introduce a Local Rule that allows a player to drop on the green side of a water hazard when their ball fails to cear the hazard. In any case the wording of the Local Rule is what determines how relief may be taken, there is nothing in the 34 Rules referring to Dropping Zones.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry - Two questions.

1) How large should a drop zone be? My child plays on the US Kids' tour and there is typically a stake marking the drop zone but no is boundary delineated. In cases such as this is there is an imaginary circle that is x feet in diameter?

2) In a recent match, one of the kids flew the green into a water hazard that was on the other side of a cart path and there was no possible way to hit from the other side of the water (it was OB). There was no drop zone because hitting into this water was really never contemplated (unless one assumes a REALLY bad shot would be made. We all agreed to let the player drop two club lengths from the cart path, which was closer to the hole. Should the player had gone back to the original spot to play the next shot? Are other options available?

Thanks so much. We LOVE your videos!!
-Tim

Barry Rhodes said...

Tim,

1) The Local Rule relating to the Dropping Zone should clearly state the distance from the stake within which the ball must be dropped.

2) If it was a water hazard (yellow stakes and/or lines) the only option (if there was no drop zone) was to return to where the last stroke was made from. If it was a lateral water hazard (red stakes and/or lines) the player had the additional option of dropping within two club-lengths of where it last crossed the margin, not nearer the hole.

Barry

Swampy said...

Barry can a local rule make a drop zone mandatory and if so under what circumstances. Also I saw in one of your posts that if your in a hazard you can remove the yellow or red stakes. Is this if they are affecting your swing or could it also be because they are in your line of play. Also what is the rule for the hazard stakes if you are outside the hazard and they are restricting your swing or your line of line of play, and let's assume they are movable

Barry Rhodes said...

Swampy,

1 A Committee may permit or require the use of a dropping zone, Appendix l, Part A.

2. Stakes are movable obstructions, unless a Local Rule states otherwise. So they may be removed from the line of play, Rule 26-1.

3. Movable obstructions may be moved at any time (but don't forget to replace them!).

Barry

Swampy said...

Barry. If your in a red hazard and you decide to take a two club length drop can you drop the ball within the two club lengths and it is allowed to roll a further two club lengths providing its no nearer the hole. Or does the ball have to stay within the two club lengths you first measured . Also if you don't like your lie after being dropped can you use a smaller club to re measure and if it's outside take another drop. Apparently you can do this when dropping in a drop zone?

Barry Rhodes said...

Swampy,

Yes, the ball mark may roll up to 2 club-lengths from where it first touches the course after being dropped, not nearer the hole.

You are misinformed re your second question. The player must continue to use the club he originally used for measuring for all measuring in a given situation. Decision 20/1.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

My course has two particularly swampy areas on fairways (mostly as a result of the poor summer weather) and the committee have created drop zones for each, probably 20 metres back and to the side. My question is when you drop your ball in these zones and it hits the ground and hops forward, closer to the hole than where it first hit the ground, but within 2 club lengths, is this permissible ?
I was reading point (e) in the sample rule above and I think it's ok but I'm just slightly confused when it refers back to 20-2 and when a ball must be re dropped. As it happens our drop zones are mandatory, not sure if this impacts the ruling or not.

Slightly related, can I also ask, if I'm dropping within a club length of my nearest point of relief (say from a temporary green or something), and the ball hits the ground behind the NPR and hops forward slightly but still finishes behind the NPR, is this ok, or does it require a re drop ?
Thanks very much !

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

As I said in the blog, the relief that you may take depends on the exact wording of the Local Rule introduced by the Committee. For example, a Committee may make a Local Rule prohibiting the use of a dropping zone that is nearer the hole. You have stated that taking relief from the swampy areas is mandatory, whereas the recommendation is that such dropping zones should be provided as an additional relief option to those available under the Rule itself, rather than being mandatory. However, it is almost certain that a ball dropped in the dropping zone may roll nearer the hole than the spot where it first strikes a part of the course, provided it comes to rest within two club-lengths of that spot and not nearer the hole than where it was at rest before taking relief, which seems unlikely in the circumstance that you describe.

Regarding your second question, providing the ball is dropped within the permitted are of relief from the NPR and comes to rest within two club-lengths of where it first touched the course, not nearer the hole, etc., it does not amtter if it rolls forward (i.e. nearer the hole) before coming to rest.

Barry