Rules Of Golf
Nov 14th, 2020
Might DeChambeau have received a free drop?
Big hitter's request was not as crazy as it might seem
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
Sticking to his aggressive game plan, Bryson pulled out a driver on the 350-yard par four 3rd hole. The ball boomed off the tee and headed slightly left pitching in the rough just short and left of the green. It would be the last time Dechambeau saw that ball.
A frantic search ensued in what is now known to be the wrong area. Due to the torrential rains of Thursday and the fact the ball had hurtled to ground with snow on it the ball had plugged in the thick wet rough just ten feet off the fairway.
The ball was found by a steward totally plugged and only visible to someone directly standing over it.
Sadly, it was too late for the US Open champion. His second drive was a repeat of his first but the ball stayed in view in a muddy lie: the result a triple-bogey seven and probably the end of Dechambeau’s Masters.
A forlorn Dechambeau questioned the rules official as the nightmare scenario played out before his eyes. As the search continued, DeChambeau suggested it might be ‘ground under repair’ and knowing the ball was in that area might he get a free drop. The Californian enquiry fell on deaf ears but should it have?
The rule Bryson was hoping might apply, Rule 16.1 (e) states
Relief for Ball Not Found but in or on Abnormal Course Condition
If a player’s ball has not been found and it is known or virtually certain that the ball came to rest in or on an abnormal course condition on the course, the player may use this relief option instead of taking stroke-and-distance relief:
The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b, c or d, using the estimated point where the ball last crossed the edge of the abnormal course condition on the course as the spot of the ball for purposes of finding the nearest point of complete relief.
- Once the player puts another ball in play to take relief in this way:
- The original ball is no longer in play and must not be played.
- This is true even if it is then found on the course before the end of the three-minute search time (see Rule 6.3b).
‘Abnormal Course Condition’ is defined as any of these four defined conditions:
- Animal Hole,
- Ground Under Repair,
- Immovable Obstruction, or
- Temporary Water.
Any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation or an overflow from a body of water) that:
- Is not in a penalty area, and
- Can be seen before or after the player takes a stance (without pressing down excessively with his or her feet).
Had Bryson taken a stance and water were visible then it would have been a free drop provided that all present agreed that the ball was clearly lost in the area he was standing.
Maybe it was just very muddy and there was no surface water but crazier rulings have been given in the past. Remember that loose impediment boulder and those millions of loose impediments in a waste area!