Dropping zone for short hitters


I have been asked what the situation is if a player who thinks that they cannot reach the fairway on the far side of a water hazard from the teeing ground takes their ball straight to a dropping zone.

The player incurs a penalty of two strokes for playing from the wrong place and the Committee could subsequently disqualify them, if they consider they have gained a significant advantage as a result of playing from a wrong place, which seems likely, Rule 20-7.

Decision 33-8/2 confirms that a Committee may not introduce a Local Rule in this respect;

  1. The design of a hole is such that a player must hit the ball about 150 metres in order to carry a water hazard. A Local Rule has been adopted to assist players who cannot drive over the hazard by allowing them to drop a ball, under penalty of two strokes, in a dropping zone that is located across the hazard. Is such a Local Rule authorized?
  2. No. Such a Local Rule substantially alters Rule 26-1b as it allows the player to drop a ball on a part of the course (i.e., on the green side of the water hazard) that the Rule would not have permitted him to reach. Furthermore, the penalty for taking relief under the water hazard Rule (Rule 26) is one stroke, and may not be increased to two strokes by a Committee through a Local Rule – see Rule 33-8b.

On another subject, I have heard several myths about what a player may borrow from a fellow competitor during their round.

A player may borrow;

  • Balls (but if a One Ball Condition is in effect, the player would need to borrow the same brand and type of ball that they had been using).
  • Equipment (e.g. tee, towel, ball marker, pitch repairer, trolley and umbrella).
  • Clothing (e.g. rain gear, sweater and glove).

A player may not borrow;

  • Any club selected for play by any other person playing on the course, Rule 4-4a.

However, a player may borrow a club for measuring purposes, providing they do not borrow a club that is longer than one that they carry in their own bag. They may also borrow a club to practice putts or chips between holes, as permitted by Rule 7-2, providing the club is not used to make a stroke that counts in the player’s score.

The Author is an Apprentice Member of the Professional Golfers Association of South Africa and an R&A Level 2 Certified Rules Official Feedback: +265 888 346 510/

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