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19
Unplayable Ball
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
Unplayable Ball
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.
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