Pros Getting it Wrong – Relief from Yellow Penalty Areas

Pros Getting it Wrong – Relief from Yellow Penalty Area

One more error from a Professional Golfer that, by not knowing or applying a Rule of Golf, cost him dearly in a Big Tournament.

But before I say anymore just a reminder of the Definitions of Relief Area and Relief from a Yellow Penalty Area.

  • Definition of Relief Area

The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

  • Relief for Ball in Penalty Area

If a player’s ball is in a penalty area, including when it is known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area even though not found, the player has these relief options, each for one penalty stroke:

(1) Stroke-and-Distance Relief. The player may play the original ball or another ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).

(2) Back-On-the-Line Relief. The player may drop the original ball or another ball (see Rule 14.3) in a relief area that is based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the estimated point where the original ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area:

  • 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 estimated point (with no limit on how far back on the line):
    • In choosing this reference point, the player should indicate the point by using an object (such as a tee).
    • If the player drops the ball without having chosen this point, the reference point is treated as being the point on the line that is the same distance from the hole as where the dropped ball first touched the ground.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length, but with these limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area:
    • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
    • May be in any area of the course except the same penalty area, but
    • If more than one area of the course is located within one club-length of the reference point, the ball must come to rest in the relief area in the same area of the course that the ball first touched when dropped in the relief area.
Relief Yellow Penalty Area
Relief Yellow Penalty Area

DIAGRAM – RELIEF FOR BALL IN YELLOW PENALTY AREA

When it is known or virtually certain that a ball is in a yellow penalty area and the player wishes to take relief, the player has two options, each for 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). (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 point X. The reference point is a point on the course chosen by the player that is on the reference line through point X (the point where the ball last crossed the edge of the yellow penalty area). There is no limit on how far back on the line the reference point may be. The relief area is one club-length from the reference point, is not nearer to the hole than the reference point and may be in any area of the course, except the same penalty area. In choosing this reference point, the player should indicate the point by using an object (such as a tee).

The point in question then, took place in the 2nd Round of the 2019 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, Friday the 15th March 2019

Tiger Woods scored a quadruple-bogey on the 17th Hole, Island Green, when in fact he could have had an opportunity to have scored a bogey or he might even have holed out for an incredible par.

Why do I say this? Because of where the flag was positioned on the Friday, towards the back of the green, and where his ball actually fell into the water.

Shots Tiger Woods Played at the 17th Hole The Players Sawgrass 2019
Shots Tiger Woods Played at the 17th Hole The Players Sawgrass 2019

It was probably the only pin-position on the green where he could keep the point where the ball went into the penalty area (see 1 in the diagram below), between himself and the hole and not be standing in the water.

Relief Tiger Woods could Have Taken at The Players 17th Hole Sawgrass 2019
Relief Tiger Woods could Have taken at The Players 17th Hole Sawgrass 2019

Under the new rules Woods was perfectly entitled to drop the ball on the walkway to the green, within one club-length (2) of a reference point on a back-on-line-relief from the flagstick to the point where his ball entered the penalty area (1), (See DIAGRAM – RELIEF FOR BALL IN YELLOW PENALTY AREA, above)

Tiger then could have had an ‘easy’ chip, or even a putt, to the flag, rather than playing a shot from the drop zone that he took on and unfortunately also put in the water.

He could not have contemplated this play under the previous Rules of Golf, because in taking relief under a back-on-line-relief the ball had to be dropped on that line of relief and Tiger would have been standing in the Water to play a stroke.

So remember, now, that in the Rules of Golf, when taking relief allowed under a Rule of Golf, determine your reference point according to the Rule you wish to apply e.g. the point your ball is at rest with an unplayable lie, or just behind your ball with an embedded ball, nearest-point-of-complete-relief with abnormal ground condition or immovable obstruction, and a point on the line for back-on-the-line-relief.

The size of the Relief Area will then be determined as either two club-lengths for an Unplayable Lie or Lateral Relief from a Red Penalty Area, or one club-length for all other situations.

The Rules of Golf are designed to help you cope with difficult situations and are not always there to penalise you.

Enjoy your Golf!

Tony

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