Here is my friend Pete who managed to get his drive stuck halfway up a tree. (This is a picture of a real occurrence from a couple of winters ago – not a reconstruction).
If Pete doesn’t want to play the ball as it lies, what are his options?
Rule 19 “Unplayable Ball” covers this situation and offers 3 options, in each case adding one penalty stroke, and Pete may choose to use his original ball or substitute another ball.
Option 1 – Stroke & Distance Relief: Pete may play where the previous stroke was made (in this case the teeing area). (Rule 19.2a)
Option 2 – Back-on-the-Line Relief: Pete can go back (i.e. further from the hole) along the line from the hole through the spot of the original ball. He should mark a Reference Point on this line and then drop into a Relief Area which is within 1 club length of, and not nearer the hole than, this Reference Point. (Rule 19.2b)
Option 3 – Lateral Relief: Pete can drop into a Relief Area which is within 2 club lengths of, and not nearer the hole than, a Reference Point. Normally this Reference Point would be the spot of the original ball, but in this case it will be the spot on the ground directly below the spot of the original ball. (Rule 19.2c)
The Relief Area can be in any Area of the Course, but when the ball is dropped it must come to rest in the same Area of the Course as the ball first touched when dropped. i.e. if it first touched the General Area and then rolled in to a Bunker the ball would need to be re-dropped even if was still within the 1 or 2 club lengths of the Reference Point.
There is more on dropping the ball at these two posts:
As an additional challenge for Cumberwell Park Members – if you can recognise where Pete is, what would you be advising him to do if you were his caddy?