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Rule

19

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Unplayable Ball
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19.1
19.2
19.3
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Rule 18
Rule 20

Purpose: Rule 19 covers your relief options for an unplayable ball. This allows you to choose which option to use - normally with one penalty stroke - to get out of a difficult situation anywhere on the course (except in a penalty area).

19.1
You May Decide to Take Unplayable Ball Relief Anywhere Except Penalty Area

You are the only person who may decide to treat your ball as unplayable. Unplayable ball relief is allowed anywhere on the course, except in a penalty area.

19.2
Relief Options for Unplayable Ball in General Area or on Putting Green

You may take unplayable ball relief using one of three options shown in Diagram 19.2, in each case adding one penalty stroke.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 19.2: General Penalty.

A player decides that his or her ball in a bush is unplayable. The player has three options, in each case adding one penalty stroke:

(1) The player may take stroke-and-distance relief by playing the original ball or another ball from a relief area based on where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6 and Diagram 14.6).

Reference Point: The spot where the previous stroke was made (which if not known must be estimated).

Size of Relief Area: One club-length from the reference point.

Limits on Relief Area: The relief area:

  • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
  • Must be in the same area of the course as the reference point.

(2) The player may take back-on-the-line relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in a relief area based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball.

Reference Point: A point on the course chosen by the player that is on the reference line and is farther from the hole than the spot of the original ball (with no limit on how far back on the line).

Size of Relief Area: One club-length from the reference point.

Limits on Relief Area: The relief area:

  • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
  • May be in any area of the course.

Player Notes: In choosing this reference point, you should indicate the point by using an object (such as a tee).

(3) The player may take lateral relief.

Reference Point: The spot of the original ball.

Size of Relief Area: Two club-lengths from the reference point.

Limits on Relief Area: The relief area:

  • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
  • May be in any area of the course.
19.3
Relief Options for Unplayable Ball in Bunker

When your ball is in a bunker, you may take unplayable ball relief using one of four options shown in Diagram 19.3.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 19.3: General Penalty.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

Penalty Area

An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if your ball comes to rest there.

There are two different types of penalty areas, distinguished by the colour used to mark them:

  • Yellow penalty areas (marked with yellow lines or yellow stakes) give you two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give you an extra lateral relief option (Rule 17.1d(3)), in addition to the two relief options available for yellow penalty areas.

If the colour of a penalty area has not been marked or indicated by the Committee, it is treated as a red penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes or lines.

  • Stakes: When defined by stakes, the edge of the penalty area is defined by the line between the outside points of the stakes at ground level, and the stakes are inside the penalty area.
  • Lines: When defined by a painted line on the ground, the edge of the penalty area is the outside edge of the line, and the line itself is in the penalty area.
Wrong Place

Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Bunker

A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. These are not part of a bunker:

  • A lip, wall or face at the edge of a prepared area and consisting of soil, grass, stacked turf or artificial materials,
  • Soil or any growing or attached natural object inside the edge of a prepared area (such as grass, bushes or trees),
  • Sand that has spilled over or is outside the edge of a prepared area, and
  • All other areas of sand on the course that are not inside the edge of a prepared area (such as deserts and other natural sand areas or areas sometimes referred to as waste areas).
Wrong Place

Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.