Test your knowledge the rules

Updated: December 3, 2022

Question: Your tee shot comes to rest in a red penalty area.  When you arrive in the penalty area you see an area inside the penalty area marked as a “no play zone”.  Your ball is not in the “NPZ” but you would have to stand in the “NPZ” to make a stroke at the ball.  What are your options?

Answer: No play zones are a new addition to the rules of golf as of January 1, 2019.  Regardless of where they are on the golf course relief is mandatory.  In our situation we would refer to Rule 17.1e.  Since the ball does not lie within the NPZ in the Penalty Area you may take Penalty Area relief with a one stroke penalty or take NPZ free relief inside the Penalty Area.  Find the nearest point of complete relief and drop the ball or another other ball within 1 club length of the nearest point of complete relief not nearer the hole.

For NPZ relief in the other 4 areas of the golf course see Rule 16.1f. Rule 16.  1f Relief Must Be Taken from interference by No Play Zone in Abnormal Course Condition.

In each of these situations, the ball must not be played as it lies:

(1) When Ball Is in No Play Zone. If the player’s ball is in a no play zone in or on an abnormal course condition in the general area, in a bunker or on the putting green: No Play Zone in General Area. The player must take free relief under Rule 16.1b. No Play Zone in Bunker. The player must take free relief or penalty relief under Rule 16.1c (1) or (2).  No Play Zone on Putting Green. The player must take free relief under Rule 16.1d.

(2) When No Play Zone Interferes with Stance or Swing for Ball Anywhere on Course Except Penalty Area. If a player’s ball is outside a no play zone and is in the general area, in a bunker or on the putting green, and a no play zone (whether in an abnormal course condition or in a penalty area) interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing, the player must either: Take relief if allowed under Rule 16.1b, c or d, depending on whether the ball is in the general area, in a bunker or on the putting green, or take unplayable ball relief under Rule 19.  For what to do when there is interference by a no play zone for a ball in a penalty area, see Rule 17.1e.

Question: Your ball heads into bad country but you think you can find it.  After a brief search you find a ball in a bush and determine the ball is unplayable.  You elect to take lateral relief within two club lengths of where the ball was unplayable in the bush. You drop the ball per 19.2c and play a stroke onto the putting green.  When marking the ball and lifting it you discover the ball is not the ball you played from the tee.  Now what?

Answer: Rule 19 Unplayable ball provides three relief options with a one stroke penalty.  Stroke and distance is the first (Rule 19.2a), Back-On-The-Line is the second (Rule 19.2b) and Lateral Relief (Rule 19.2c).  The second and the third options carry with them a caveat.  You MUST know the ball you took relief for was your ball in play, you could say you MUST know where your original ball is.  In this case since you did not know where your original ball was you were required to play under stroke and distance.  In this case when you dropped a ball and played it you played from a wrong place.  Given you played much closer to the hole from where you were supposed to play for a lost ball it would be considered a serious breach.  If not corrected the penalty that will apply is a disqualification.