Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Opposite Side of the Margin

Diagram from R&A’s and USGA’s ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015’
If asked to imagine a lateral water hazard, I expect that most golfers would immediately think of a ditch, with or without water, running down the side of a hole, defined by a series of red stakes on either side. In most cases, when a ball comes to rest within such a hazard, we know that the player can drop a ball within two club-lengths, not nearer the hole, for a penalty of one stroke. However, there are instances when, due to the shape of the putting green and the margin of the lateral water hazard there may be no spot to drop that is not nearer the hole, or when the nature of the permitted dropping area is not favourable. In these uncommon circumstances, Rule 26-1 provides four other options. Leaving aside; a) playing the ball from within the hazard, b) playing again under penalty of stroke and distance, and c) dropping a ball back along a line from the hole through where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, we are left with d) the option in Rule 26-1c(ii);
…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?

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.
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.

Good golfing,



 

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.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.

13 comments:

Tony Zendle said...

Very good and useful.

I once got it wrong when I was ask to calculate the equidistant point on a Lateral Water Hazard that went across the fairway (don't ask me why!). Last hole, last group in!

My advice? Work it all out before the golfers get there!

Anonymous said...

If a "ditch" meanders along the side of a green and a ball rolls into it from the green, it could be that there is a point on the same side of the hazard that is equidistant from the hole and where a line between the two points does not cross land outside of the hazard. In this situation there is an obvious opposite margin, but according to decision 26-1/14 it's not? By the way the title of this blog is as confusing as the R&A rules and decisions.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The circumstance that you describe does not meet this part of the requirement;
"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."

A point on the "same side of the hazard" quite obviously cannot also be on the opposite side. I do not see how you think that Decision 26-1/14, copied in my blog, states otherwise.

I would be interested in your suggestion for a title for this blog. If I think that it is better I will certainly change it.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Often on par 3 holes you hit over a pond/lake to a green. The lake margin runs along the entire front of the green, and the lake is marked as a lateral hazard. If a ball crosses the lake and rolls back into the lake from off the edge of green, is the margin of the lake running along the edge of the green considered to be the same side of the hazard?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I answered a similar question to this in my previous reply above. Where a lake margin runs along the front of a putting green, of course any point near the green is on the same side and not the opposite side of the lateral hazard. So, if a ball cannot be dropped within two club-lengths of where it last crossed the margin of the hazard, not nearer the hole, then the player must play the ball as it lies, return to where they last played from under penalty of stroke and distance, or cross to the opposite side of the hazard to take one of other options for relief under penalty of one stroke, as described in Rule 26-1.

Barry

Anonymous said...

If I read your description correctly, X3 and Y3 are on the same side of the lateral water hazard, therefore Y3 would not be an applicable drop area?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Please read the last paragraph of the blog above. A straight line drawn between X3 and Y3 only crosses land and water within the hazard and so, Y3 is on the opposite margin for the purpose of Rule 26-1.

Barry

James said...

Barry,

Assuming Y2 is no nearer the hole than X1, would Y2 be a valid drop point for a ball that entered the hazard at X1?

Barry Rhodes said...

James,

But Y2 is nearer the hole than X1! The arc going left from X1 crosses an area outside the hazard at Y1 before reaching the point of the hazard behind Y2.

Barry

Matt W said...

Hello Barry,

A couple of questions on Lateral Water Hazards and the "opposite margin":

1. When taking the "opposite margin" option under the Lateral Water hazard rule (R26-1c(ii)) there could be two places available to the player that are on the opposite margin of the hazard and equidistant from the hole. I assume that either of these could be used, even though one could be considerably further from the point of entry than the other?

2. What if the Hazard is a complex shape some of which is marked with yellow stakes and some with red? There could be a scenario where the point equidistant on the "opposite" side is yellow staked even though the ball has entered the hazard through red stakes. I assume that the option to go opposite side would still be open, on the basis that the point of entry is the what determines the player's options? But I can't find anything specific on this?

Many thanks,
Matt

Barry Rhodes said...

Matt,

1. No, if a lateral water hazard has been correctly defined there can be only one equidistant point from where the ball last crossed the margin (see the diagram from Decision 26-1/14 above).

2. The two options in Rule 26-1c are only available when the ball last crossed the margin of a lateral water hazard. Hazards are often defined as part water hazard and part lateral water hazard, but the only relevant point is where the ball last crossed the margin.

Regards,

Barry

Matt W said...

Many thanks for your reply Barry and apologies for the delay in responding. I'm happy with your reply to (2) - thanks. On (1) I still have some doubt. It's difficult to do this a without a diagram but, if you can imagine a river or stream marked with red stakes running parallel to the direction of play, alongside the fairway and extending beyond the green. If, for example, a ball enters the hazard just short of the green (flag somewhere in the middle of the green) we could then construct an arc from the point at which the ball last crossed the margin, centered on the flagstick. This arc would cross the opposite margin of the Hazard in two places, one near the ball and the other, possibly many yards further, away towards the back of the green.

Does this make sense or have I got the wrong end of the stick here?

Many thanks,
Matt

Barry Rhodes said...

Matt,

I now see what you are getting at. So, yes it is possible that in the circumstance that you describe, there could be a second point on the arc that does not cross anywhere outside of the margin of the hazard. The player may then choose either reference point for making the drop.

Barry