Do I Re-Drop?

My ball comes to rest in an unplayable ball situation. I measure out the two club-lengths in which I need to drop a ball (Rule 28c) and drop it. It rolls outside of the measured two club-length area. What do I do?

That is a fairly common question and it needs to be broken down into two parts to find the answer.

The first part is determining where a ball must be dropped under the Rules. It must be dropped no nearer the hole and may need to be dropped as near as possible to a spot or within one or two club-lengths of a reference spot. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course where the applicable Rule requires it to be dropped (i.e. through the green within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole).

If the dropped ball satisfies step one above (hits the course in the right spot), the second test comes into play. That second test is covered by Rule 20-2c which explains when a ball must be re-dropped. As long as none of the following happens, you won’t need to re-drop the ball and it is in play properly.

There are seven times (actually nine, since the last one has three choices) when a dropped ball must be re-dropped. A ball must be re-dropped when:

  1. rolls into and comes to rest in a hazard;
  2. rolls out of and comes to rest outside a hazard;
  3. roll onto and comes to rest on a putting green;
  4. rolls and comes to rest out of bounds;
  5. rolls to and comes to rest back into a position of interference you were trying to get away from (back on a cart path, back into casual water, etc.)
  6. rolls and comes to rest more than two club-lengths from where it first struck a part of the course;
  7. rolls and comes to rest nearer the hole than;
    • its original or estimated position;
    • the nearest point of relief or maximum available relief;
    • the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard or lateral water hazard.

Now, back to the original question. Look at item (vi) above. That’s the one that gets people. Once the ball strikes the course in the proper place, it can then roll an additional two club-lengths before it will be required to be re-dropped.

In other words, if I were to drop right up to the maximum two club-lengths allowed in step one, the ball could then roll up to another two club-lengths in step two. That would potentially get me legally nearly four club-lengths away from where the ball originally lies!

Remember, dropping the ball is simple if you just follow the Rules of Golf. Knowing the Rules can help you save strokes and enjoy the game of golf.

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