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Q: Can you explain the reasoning behind the rule why a provisional cannot be used for a water hazard hole? I heard the explanation a long time ago but don't remember why a provisional can only be used for an out of bounds or lost ball not in a hazard. Thank you, Sallie Miller
A: Siallie, good question. Just remember, the provisional ball rule was put in place as a time saver so a player did not have to march all the way back to the teeing area when his or her ball went out of bounds. If you think your ball went into a hazard off the tee, your only option is to see if it went into the hazard. If it went into the hazard proceed under rule 26 for your options.
Q: I am confused on the ruling on Harrington on the 16th hole yesterday. Why did he have to walk around to the other side of the pond to take his drop? The only thing I can think of is that if he dropped from the green side of the pond his ball would have been closer to the hole than it was before he hit it.
A: Good Question Gary, I never saw what happened on TV, but shotlink on helped me see what happened to Paddy. The hazard fronting the 16th is a water hazard marked by yellow stakes. not a lateral water hazard (marked by red stakes). The procedure for dropping from a water hazard is to take the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard and draw a straight line from that point back from the hole. The player may drop anywhere on that line, not to the side of it which one might do with a lateral water hazard. Paddy had the option of playing another ball from where he hit it into the hazard or go on the other side of the hazard. Hopefully this answers your question.
Q: There is a lot of talk about the PGA switching from one kind of face groove to another. Can you briefly explain what they are talking about and how it will make a difference?
A: Dave, Excellent question. The groove issue has nothing to do with whether the groove is V or U shaped. It has to do with the sharpness on the edges. The PGA Tour wants the edges on the face rounded and not sharp. The rounded edges produce far less spin on the ball, especially out of the rough. The rule is to curb the bomb and gouge players on tour who hit it 300+ and can spin it out of the rough with a wedge. This rule on grooves mainly effects tour players, because they have the convenience of having their wedges sharpened every week. A typical amateur has hit so many shots with their wedges that the grooves are rounded after 2 or 3 weeks of use. This new rule will be implemented on Jan 1, 2010 and will force the bomb and gougers to switch to a softer ball, so they can achieve more spin. The switch to the softer ball might make the player change their Driver and or shaft to accommodate the softer ball. It mainly effects the wedges since most players irons already have conforming grooves. The driver is not effected at all. Some players like Tiger are already using the conforming grooves and is happy for the change. Notice the recent drop in Tigers driving distance? Players who do not spin the ball much like Mike Weir are not concerned at all with the change. Now, I have no idea how the tour is going to police this rule. Microscope on the first tee? We shall see.
Q: If I hit a ball on a par three and the ball lands in high grass (eg., links course), can I declare the ball unplayable from the tee box without actually going to the ball? Thank you.
A: Well, First off. It would be foolish to declare a ball unplayable without looking at it first, but you can declare a ball unplayable at anytime unless it is in a hazard. So if a hazard is nearby, you must go up their and take a look if it is in a hazard. The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable. So, if you declare your ball unplayable you must take a 1-stroke penalty. The three options for proceeding are to return to the spot of the previous stroke and play again; or drop within two club lengths, not nearer the hole; or drop behind the spot, going back as far as you want, keeping the original spot between the hole and the spot where the ball is dropped. If you declare a ball in a bunker unplayable and use the second or third option (taking a drop), you must drop in the bunker. So you might be able to find a good spot within 2 clublenghts of your ball or go further back on the line between the ball and hole and have an easier shot than replaying from the tee. In short. Go find your ball and gouge it out!
Q: Have you ever seen anyone make a "double hit" ?? What's up with that? How could this happen and can we get a ruling?
A: The old TC Chen, as Pro's call it. He did it in the 85 US open with a four shot lead. He double hit his fourth shot, took a one shot penalty (hitting a moving ball)then another chip and two putts for an eight. I think Andy North won that Open. I really don't feel bad for the guy, I have done it myself. Hell, all professionals have probably done it. If you play courses with heavy greenside rough, it it very easy to do. Just don't do it leading the US Open by four shots!
Q: If your ball is on the cart path - Can you drop on either side, or nearest point of relief?
A: Nearest point of relief is correct. Remember it's "nearest" point of relief, not "nicest" point! The rules make no mention of fairway, rough or trees. Relief is optional. Remember at the US Open when Tiger hit off the cart path? His nearest point of relief would have been behind a tree. That's why he hit from the path instead. To find the nearest point of relief, you should take the club you will most likely use on your next shot. Take a stance where you will not have interference with the path, and mark the position of the clubhead. (Put a tee there.) Do this on both sides of the cart path. Whichever is closer to the position of the ball is your "nearest" point of relief. Drop within one club length of that spot, any direction, but not closer to the hole. If you take a drop, you must get full relief from the path. If you drop and the ball rolls to a spot where you would still be standing on the path, you must drop again.
Q: When hitting a provisional ball, if you have not found your original ball yet, and you hit it a second time somewhere down the fairway -- Are you allowed to play your original ball, if found further down as you approach the hole?
A: I hope this answer will solve any confusion. The player may play a provisional ball until he reaches the place where the original ball is likely to be. If he makes a stroke with the provisional ball from the place where the original ball is likely to be or from a point nearer the hole than that place, the original ball is lost and the provisional ball becomes the ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1).
Q: My rule dispute has to do with a "lateral water hazard" marked by red stakes. We hit the Rules book, websites, blogs, Idiot's Guide to Golf, etc. The rule is not that clearly defined in the Rules book.... or maybe the way it is laid out can be confusing.
A: If a ball goes in a "lateral water hazard" (marked by red stakes), you draw a straight line between the point it went in and the flag. Keeping straight on that line going away from the flag, you can drop back as far as you want no closer to the pin. But in many cases -- that straight line will lead you straight where you cannot go (out of bounds or in the water, etc.). In this case, you would have to drop two club lengths from the point where you went in, no closer to the hole...or... re-hit the ball from the original positon. Other two options are to play another ball from the teeing ground, or drop on the other side of the "lateral water hazard" with two club lengths, or hit from the hazard.

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