I just got my new driver and I’m feeling pretty good about it. So much so, that I think I can get a little extra on this one. I make a big swing only to be revisited by my old friend the pull hook.
The ball is struck well as it drifts skyward and off to the left towards a series of power lines up the left side of the hole. My ball hits one of the power lines and falls to the ground but thankfully, still in bounds.
Now what do I do?
As most answers to Rules questions begin, this one starts with “It depends.”
Generally, the ball is played as it lies. However, the Committee (or, the person in charge of the course if this does not occur in a competition) has the authority to write a Local Rule that addresses this situation.
The suggested text for the Local Rule from the USGA (Decision 33-8/13) is: “If a ball strikes the power line during play of the ____ hole, the stroke is canceled and the player must play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original was played in accordance with Rule 20-5 (Making Next Stroke from Where Previous Stroke Made).”
In some cases, the towers or supporting poles may also be included in the Local Rule if the Committee desires. In that case, if the ball were to strike a supporting tower or pole, the stroke must once again be canceled and replayed without penalty.
Please note than when this Local Rule is in effect, the player does not have the option of playing the ball as it lies. Rather, the stroke must be canceled and replayed without penalty.
Most often, the course will list the Local Rule on their score card when in effect. Alternately, there may be a sign on the hole itself stating the Local Rule.
Back to my errant tee shot. In my case, if the Local Rule is not in effect, I would play the ball as it lies. If the Local Rule is in effect, I must cancel and replay my tee shot. Hopefully, swinging a little bit easier to get it in play.
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.