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Using the rules to your advantage

Would you be surprised if I told you that you can probably save 3-5 shots off an average round of golf if you just use the existing rules to your advantage? That’s correct – from being able to call ANY lie unplayable – to finding a great spot on the tee box, you have a lot of options with modern modifications to the original golf rules (these are all part of the official USGA rules now).

Unplayable Ball – Take an Unplayable whenever you like

You find your ball in ‘gunk’ – which could be thick unplayable grass, fescue, a bad bunker lie – anything. Yes – you can call any lie unplayable – as long as you deem it unplayable. For example – a tough downhill bunker lie could be unplayable for you (even though it may be playable for another golfer)  – and you can invoke this rule.

You have THREE options with this rule.

  1. You can take relief two club lengths from the ball – no closer to the hole – in ANY direction.
  2. You can take relief ALONG the line joining the ball and the flag – as far back as you like – not just two club lengths.
  3. You can go back to your original spot and replay the shot.

All three relief methods incur a one stroke penalty.  How many times have you wished you had just taken an unplayable – instead of the two or three difficult shots to get out of trouble?

As an extreme example, suppose you have a long, superfast downhill putt . You stroke the ball way too hard –  and watch it roll into the bunker at the edge of the green. You can, perfectly legitimately, declare your bunker lie unplayable. Taking a one stroke penalty – you get to re-putt from your original point.

NOTE: This rule can also be invoked if your ball comes to land near a boundary marker (stake, marker whatever). Unfortunately, these markers are NOT movable obstacles – and you have to either play it as it lies – or take an unplayable along with a 1  shot penalty.

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Uneven Tee Boxes

I live in hilly Austin, TX.  While the tee boxes offer scenic elevated views,  they are also subject to uneven surfaces due to the hilly terrain.  This can pose to be a bigger deal than you might imagine – hitting a driver off a level lie is all one ever practices. Change to an uphill (or downhill) lie – and suddenly, you find yourself swinging off plane.

Fear not, there is the two club length relief rule – you can tee your ball as far back as two driver lengths – and find yourself a level spot to hit from. You can even STAND outside the tee box – as long as your ball is within the tee box.

This will help you keep your tee shot on the fairway, saving you strokes.

Loose Impediments in Golf

You can pick up and remove any loose impediment (size immaterial) if it will obstruct your contact with the ball. This  DOES NOT allow you to move a low branch that is in the path of your swing – since the branch is not ‘loose’. It may be an impediment – but is not a loose impediment. On the other hand, even an entire log of wood may be removed – since it is considered a loose impediment.

You have to be delicate in moving the impediment – any movement of your ball – even a gentle rocking motion – will cost you a 1 stroke penalty (everywhere except the green). On the green, even if you accidentally move the ball whilst removing your impediment, you get to place it back without a penalty. 

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Summary

These rules, if used with some  are not commonly used,

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Anuj Varma – who has written posts on Anuj Varma, Technology Architect.


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