Top 3 Misunderstood Golf Rules

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This week’s PGA Tour event rolls into Innisbrook Resort where last year’s winner was Jordan Spieth. Spieth finished at -10, but at one point was 3 shots behind with 6 holes to play. He went on to make two birdies and three pars to join the playoff. He won on the 3rd playoff hole, by holing a 30-foot birdie putt over Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair. The Copperhead course is a huge hit among PGA Professionals and the most recognizable of Innisbrook’s four courses. The Copperhead course features tree-lined fairways and is a challenge for even the longest hitters measuring at more than 7,200 yards. It’s also surrounded by lakes, ponds, and abundant wildlife, including fox squirrels, bald eagles, alligators, blue herons, and many other types of water fowl.

As if this course doesn’t sound hard enough the Rules of Golf can make matters worse. There are many rules that can help you instead of penalizing you – as most people seem to believe. Before playing your next round, take a look at the summary of the Rules of Golf. For most of you, this is all that’s necessary to be successful and play according to the rules. Since there are so many rules to keep up with, it is very easy to misunderstand or misinterpret. Which is why you should leave it to your local PGA Professional to interpret. Here are three of the most misunderstood rules in golf.

Water Hazards

Red Stakes

If the ball is hit where the red stakes are located for a water hazard, you have four options.

(1) You can play the ball as it lies inside the hazard,

(2) Hit from the original position the ball was in, but incur a stroke and distance penalty,

(3) Take the imaginary line from the hole where you think the ball last crossed the hazard line and drop the ball anywhere behind that point, but the ball must be kept between you and the flag.

(4) Take the point where you think the ball last crossed the hazard line and measure 2 club lengths from that point. You can drop the ball, no nearer the hole, anywhere inside those 2 club lengths.

Yellow Stakes

If the ball is hit where the yellow stakes are located for a water hazard, you have three options.

(1) Play the ball as it lies inside the hazard, use the original position the ball was in, but incurring a stroke and distance penalty,

(2) Hit from the original position the ball was in, but incur a stroke and distance penalty,

(3) Take the imaginary line from the hole to where you think the ball last crossed the hazard line and drop the ball anywhere behind that point, but you must keep the ball between you and the flag.

Unplayable Lies

If you have deemed the lie unplayable, there are a few options available. You may deem the ball unplayable at any place on the course except in a water hazard.

Under a one-stroke penalty, you must play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played, or drop a ball behind the point where the ball is located, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind that point the ball may be dropped, or drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball is located, but not nearer the hole. However, if the ball is in a bunker, and you elect to use one of the last two options, you must drop the ball inside the bunker.

Lost Or Out Of Bounds Ball

Out of bounds is usually marked by white paint lines or white stakes. You are allowed a maximum of 5 minutes to look for the ball. If the ball is not found within 5 minutes, you must go back to the original spot from where the ball was last played from and hit another shot. You will incur both a stroke and distance penalty.

Now that you know how to proceed when you find yourself in these situations, you’ll make a better playing partner and you may even play faster golf. If you have more rules questions, email our PGA Professionals!

Ask A PGA Professionals at GlobalGolf

Improve your game with these tips:

Emmett Brantly, PGA

Emmett Brantly has been a Class “A” member of the PGA of America since 2003. He graduated from Campbell University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Golf Management. He has worked in Public, Semi-Private, Private, and Resort golf facilities in Raleigh and Pinehurst North Carolina. He has also worked in various retail settings, as well as holding positions of PGA Teaching Professional at various academies including the Pinehurst Golf Academy. Emmett has a strong passion for growing the game of golf by displaying his extensive knowledge in club-fitting, teaching, fitness, and product knowledge.

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