"The Rules of Golf's Exception to the Exception"
It is very difficult to learn the Rules of Golf because there are so many exceptions. However, believe it or not, there is a Rule of Golf for which there is no exception.
For those deep thinkers, it makes perfect sense that if there is an exception to every Rule, then the exception to the exception would be the Rule without an exception!
That Rule would be Rule 27-1a; Proceeding Under Stroke and Distance. The Rule states that “At any time, a player may, under penalty of one stroke, play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5), i.e. proceed under stroke and distance.”
In layman’s terms, that means you can replay the shot, counting the previous stroke and adding one penalty stroke for your do-over. The phrase “stroke and distance” has been around golf a very long time. However, it only found its way into the Rules of Golf book in 2008. The inherent assumption is that it only applies once you have begun play of a hole.
Not only is stroke and distance listed under Rule 27, it also appears as the first option under the Water Hazard Rule (Rule 26) and the Unplayable Ball Rule (Rule 28) just in case you forgot about it!
When would you want to use stroke and distance? Here is a link to a short video by a good friend of mine, Jerry Duffy, of the U.S. Senior Amateur Committee using the stroke and distance option.
Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.