Golf Rules – Ball Unplayable


Rule 28 – Ball Unplayable

The first thing to say here is that a player may declare his ball ‘Unplayable’ at anytime anywhere on the course within its boundaries other than when in a water hazard.

When a player declares his ball ‘Unplayable’ he has 3 options, all under penalty of one stroke.

  1. Go back to the spot, including the tee, where their last shot was played from.
  2. Go back as far as they want on a line that keeps the position of the ‘Unplayable’ ball between themselves and the hole.
  3. Take a TWO club length drop from the position of the ‘Unplayable Ball’ no nearer the hole.

So for example, a player at our 13th hole drives and finish right behind the tree in the middle of the hole, next to the ladies tee.  They could play the ball but decide it is too risky and declare it ‘Unplayable’.

So the player could

  1. Return to the tee, tee up their ball again and hit a shot which would be their 3rd shot (1st shot ended under the tree, 2nd shot is the unplayable penalty, 3rd shot is the tee shot) or…
  2. Mark their ball and walk backwards on a line that maintains the position of the unplayable ball is between them and the pin, this would be towards the 12th green and the tree should still be in the direct path of the players 3rd shot (1st shot ended under the tree, 2nd shot is the unplayable penalty, 3rd shot is from their new dropped position) (Picture 1) or….
  3. Mark their ball with a tee and measure out two club lengths either side of the tree no nearer the hole.  Mark the furthest point with a tee peg then drop the ball within the two club lengths, the ball may roll another two clubs.  A ball must only be dropped again if it comes to rest nearer the hole, more than two clubs lengths from the drop location or within a hazard.  If the ball comes to rest in a divot or hard ground or indeed back behind the tree it is hard luck and the ball is back in play and the players 3rd shot must be played from that spot. (1st behind the tree, 2nd penalty shot for the relief, 3rd shot is played from the new location) (Picture 2).

Picture 1


Picture 2



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