There are many reasons why one might have to, or be entitled to, take a drop on a golf course. It’s important to understand how and where to drop and what penalty, if any, is applicable. Here we give a synopsis to help you drop with confidence.
You’re entitled to a free drop if your lie, stance or swing is affected by an “immovable obstruction”: an, artificial, immovable object such as a building within the bounds of the course – you must check the local rules that the object is not defined as an “integral part of the course.”
You’ll also get a free drop if your ball plugs in any closely mown area, if your ball comes to rest on the wrong green or upon, “abnormal ground conditions.” These are: casual water, ground under repair or an area disturbed by an animal. You get a free drop if the abnormal ground condition interferes with your lie, stance or swing.
Taking a free drop “through the green” (any area of the course not a hazard, green or teeing area) you must drop within one club length of the nearest point of relief, no nearer to the hole. You must drop in such a way as to take complete relief. i.e. neither ball nor swing nor stance should still be affected by the condition you are dropping away from.
If you find your ball in an unplayable position then you have three options, all under penalty of one stroke.
1 – Return to where the previous shot was played and drop as close as possible to the spot it was struck from.
2 – Drop the ball behind the point where the ball was lying, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which you drop. (You can go back as far as you want.)
3 – Drop within two club lengths of where the ball lay, no closer to the hole.
And if you’ve found the water?
If marked by yellow stakes, it’s a “Water Hazard.” You can, under penalty of one stroke:
1 – Play a ball from the spot where the original ball was last played.
2 – Drop a ball behind the water hazard on a line between the ball’s original point of entry into the hazard and the flag. There’s no limit to how far behind the water hazard you drop.
If there are red stakes, it’s a “Lateral Water Hazard.” In addition to the two options above, you can also, under penalty of one stroke:
1 – Drop a ball outside the hazard, no nearer the hole, within two club lengths of the point where the ball crossed the margin of the hazard
2 – Drop at a point on the opposite margin of the hazard equidistant from the hole.
There are some things golfers should always have. One is a copy of the R&A’s pocket-sized Rules of Golf in their bag in case of any queries or disputes. Another is specialised golf insurance to give peace of mind that they’re fully protected on the course – go to golfcare.co.uk for more.