Dropping Off The Road

Take a pair of golfers and count the number of fingers on both hands and that’s about the number of different interpretations I’ve heard or seen for the relief of a ball on the road.

This is an attempt to put in simple terms the requirements of the law and I thank our resident rule gurus for their help in putting this together.

The rules of the R&A relevant to this are Rule 20.2 and 24 and by clicking on this article you can get the official version. So your ball lands on the road, or near to the road so as to impede stance or swing. You are entitled to claim relief from the position without penalty. The first thing to do is to determine where the nearest point of relief is. There is only one point of relief – even if it means in the gorse bush! The point of relief is the nearest point not nearer the hole where the ball can be dropped so that the ball, stance and swing are not impeded by the road. This should be determined by using the club you would have used had the road not been there. i.e. probably not a driver or broom- handled putter. If for instance your drive on the fourth lands in the middle of the road then your nearest point of relief if you are right handed, may well be over the road on the fifth. If you are left handed then it may well be back on the fourth. Once you have determined that nearest point of relief by marking it appropriately – usually with a tee peg - then the dropping area is one club’s length not nearer the hole (and this can be your driver – without head-cover - or any legal club in your bag).

The dropping area may well be an unplayable lie in a bush etc. –that’s tough - if the ball stays there it is in play and you will need to deal with that under a different rule. So when the ball is dropped, if it rolls outside the dropping area and providing it doesn’t roll nearer the hole and is within two club’s length (and again these can be your driver –without head-cover - or any legal club in your bag) of where it first strikes the ground the ball is in play. If it rolls outside the two clubs length then the drop needs to be done again. If it rolls again outside the two club’s length then the ball needs to be placed as close as possible to where it first landed when dropped. If the ball rolls into and comes to rest in a hazard (e.g. a bunker) it must be re-dropped without penalty. The ball is then in play – good luck! I’m sure there will be scenarios that occur on the course that need further explanation or interpretation, so please let me know and it may well become a regular feature of the newsletter.
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