Rules and Recoveries

I was stationed to the right of the very narrow par-4 18th hole at the recent Senior Championship conducted at the Vero Beach Country Club in Vero Beach as I observed a player pull his tee shot left into the trees and near the out of bounds fence but still in bounds.

The player was a right handed player and had no chance of chipping his ball out of the palm trees as it lay too close to the fence. I observed from a distance as he pondered his options.

He went to his bag and took out another ball. I could still see his original ball on the ground. He looked toward the ground and then dropped the second ball. I said to myself, “looks like he’s taking an unplayable lie if he’s substituting a ball.”

After dropping the second ball, he scratched his head a bit and turned in my direction to summon me for assistance with the “wave over”.

I came over to help him out and began by asking him to tell me what he had done.

He told me that his original ball had come to rest next to the fence defining out of bounds and said that he knew he did not get relief. I confirmed with him that it was his original ball and that he was correct in his assessment.

Next, he told that he was going to turn his club over and hit a left-handed recovery shot from the trees. I thought to myself, very difficult, but certainly reasonable in the situation. He then proceeded to tell me that since his stance would be in an area of ground under repair, he found his nearest point of relief and dropped a ball in accordance with the ground under repair Rule.

That’s when I stopped him. The “ground under repair” that he was referring to was an area of sod patches laid down by the maintenance staff.

I informed him that the sod patched area was covered by a Local Rule on our hard card and that relief was only given for lie of ball or area of intended swing; not for stance. As a result, he was not entitled to relief from the sod patches and that the second ball he had dropped had been incorrectly substituted.

I told him that “Rule 20-6, the ‘Eraser Rule’ allowed him to pick up the ball improperly substituted without penalty” and that he needed to proceed with his original ball.

His response; “That’s exactly why I called you over.”

He played his original ball and made an unbelievable recovery shot left-handed with the club turned over.

My response; “Wow!”

Remember, use the definitions, 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.

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