When Nearer the Hole is OK
I have noticed lately a common error when dropping out of a water hazard using the second option of the water hazard Rule or what is commonly called the “flagline” option.
Whenever we hit our ball into a water hazard of either type, red or yellow, we have the option of dropping a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard (Point B) directly between the hole (Point C) and the spot on which the ball is dropped (Point A), with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped. This is the second option of the water hazard Rule (Rule 26-1b) and it will cost you one penalty stroke to do so. It is also commonly referred to as the “flagline” option.
Now here is the part that is tripping everyone up. Sometime it is OK if the ball rolls nearer the hole when dropped. If when you do drop the ball under this option, it may roll nearer the hole up to two club-lengths (Rule 20-2c(vi)), before it must be re-dropped provided it has not rolled nearer the hole than the reference point (Point B).
Too many people see it roll nearer the hole a foot or two and think they must re-drop when in fact the ball has been put into play correctly and should be played as it lies from that point. More often than not, people will pick up the ball and re-drop it instead; actually incurring a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play for lifting your ball in play and not replacing it.
Remember, knowing and following the Rules of Golf can assist you in avoiding unnecessary penalties and help you to enjoy this great game of golf even more.