Taking a penalty drop when a path runs alongside a hazard

Well, the previous post aroused some “interesting” responses, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.  However, the most mentioned comment related to the “extra time” it would take per round if players followed the correct procedure when taking a drop, namely when dropping on a path, and then taking relief from the path.

I timed a couple of players who recently followed the correct procedure, and it took no more than 30 seconds in each instance.  Given that there are (hopefully) not many instances where you have to do this per round, it doesn’t really add up to much extra time.

I need to reiterate that if a player decides to take a penalty drop for a ball that has crossed the hazard, and the nearest point of relief within 2 club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the hazard is on a path, the player MUST drop the ball on the path.  If the player simply moves away from the path and drops on the fairway, they are in breach of the rules and incur a penalty of 2 strokes if they play the ball from that spot.  If they become aware of dropping in the wrong spot before they play the ball, they are allowed to pick the ball up without penalty and drop it in the correct spot.

I would respectfully suggest that players should make others aware of the need to follow the correct procedure, in order that a competition is not compromised.  This is particularly pertinent at the moment as the club championships are about to get under way.


Taking a penalty drop when a path lies adjacent to a lateral hazard

Well, here we go with an extremely contentious issue, and one that I suspect will create a lot of discussion, especially after what I am about to say.  What would you think if I said that in probably every competition that is played at Pelican Waters, an incorrect interpretation of the Rules is made relating to taking a penalty drop from a hazard when a path lies adjacent to that hazard?  Further, what would you say if I said that players should be penalised and/or disqualified if they do not follow this particular rule to the letter of the law?  Below is a photo of a path adjacent to the lateral hazard on the left of the 9th fairway.

Path 1

Let’s work through a common scenario.  A player pulls his drive off the 9th tee and it crosses the path and goes into the hazard.  There are a couple of lucky players at Pelican I know whose ball almost always bounces back out, but in the scenario I am discussing, the ball remains in the hazard.  The player decides to takes his medicine and takes a penalty, which in this case should be within two club lengths of where it crossed the hazard line, no nearer the hole.  In the instance in the photo, taking a drop within two club lengths of the hazard line would mean dropping on the path.  It appears to have become common practice that players announce, or more often than not, are told by their playing partner(s) to not worry about dropping on the path, but simply take relief from the path and drop on the grass. The player then proceeds to take relief from the path, correctly dropping the ball within one club length of the nearest point of relief from the path.  They then proceed, believing all’s well with the world and life goes on.

But wait!  Here is the kicker.  The player should have been penalised (2 strokes) for playing from the wrong place.  The correct procedure is for the player to take a drop, within two club lengths of where his ball last crossed the hazard, which in this case is on the path.  Then, if he chooses, he may take relief from the cart path.  But hang on, I hear you exclaim!  Surely it is just saving time by moving straight to the grass, and the end result is the same.  Well, yes, it does probably save a few seconds, but there is nowhere in the rules that permits the action that most of us seem to have accepted as common practice. A committee is not allowed to make a Local Rule permitting this to occur.  Another point of interest in the photo above, is that some players may prefer to play off the path as the grass is quite thick and deep, and I have seen players struggle to move the ball more than a few metres after their ball sunk down deep in the grass.

I look forward to hearing and reading what people have to say.  In the meantime, how are you going to proceed in future, if you find yourself in this situation?

Good Golfing.