|Diagram from R&A’s and USGA’s ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015’|
…drop a ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than ….. (ii) a point on the opposite margin of the water hazard equidistant from the hole.In the case of the lateral ditch described in the first sentence above, the reference point on the opposite margin is obvious, it is across the ditch, at the point on an equidistant radius from the hole from that where the ball last crossed the margin. However, as can be seen in the diagram above, which is taken from Decision 26-1/14 in ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf’, it is not always that simple to determine where the opposite margin is. This is the wording from that Decision, which refers to the diagram above;
Q. Please clarify the words "opposite margin" in Rule 26-1c. With regard to the diagram, "X1" indicates where a ball in the hazard last crossed the hazard margin. May the player drop a ball within two club-lengths of "Y1"? And, may a player whose ball last crossed the hazard margin at "X2" drop a ball within two club-lengths of "Y2," and so on?Note especially these words that I bolded; A ‘point on the opposite margin’ is a point across the hazard from the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the hazard. An imaginary straight line drawn from where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard must not cross over land outside of the hazard margin when determining the ‘opposite margin’ that is equidistant from the hole. This is not an easy concept to understand, but studying the four examples in the diagram should help clarify. Only X2 to Y2 (the red dashed line on the left of the diagram) does not meet the requirement. So the option of dropping a ball at a point on the opposite margin of the water hazard equidistant from the hole is not available for a ball that crosses the margin at point X2.
A. With respect to "X1," "Y1" is "a point on the opposite margin of the water hazard equidistant from the hole." Accordingly, the player would be entitled to drop a ball within two club-lengths of "Y1."
The same applies in the cases of "X3"-"Y3" and "X4"-"Y4," but not in the case of "X2"-"Y2." A "point on the opposite margin" is a point across the hazard from "the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the hazard." "Y2" is not across the hazard from "X2" because an imaginary straight line from "X2" to "Y2" crosses land outside the hazard.
There are 5 Rules issues that cause many golfers confusion; Water Hazards, Lateral Water Hazards, Ball Unplayable, Nearest Point of Relief and Provisional Ball. If you have trouble remembering the various options for taking relief I recommend that you view my short videos on these subjects at this link.
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