Rule 28: Ball Unplayable

Every so often, I will get a question that goes something like this: “I hit my ball into a sand bunker and I don’t know how to hit out of a bunker.  Can I declare my ball unplayable and go back to the spot where I last hit to replay the shot”.  A player who is terrified of the sand might think that a one stroke penalty is worth it to get out of the sand.  Professional golfers would not think that way because they are not willing to take the penalty stroke.

 A player can declare any ball unplayable, at any time, for any reason, and anywhere on the course other than in a water hazard.  The penalty is one stroke with three options to proceed under.  Those options are:

                          *Return to the spot of the previous stroke and play again

                          *Drop within two club lengths, not nearer the hole

                          *Drop behind the spot, going back as far as you would like, keeping the original spot between the hole and the new place where you drop

 If you declare a ball unplayable and use the second or third option, you must drop in the bunker.  The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable.  For a more extensive explanation, read over Rule 28 Ball Unplayable.

Frank Guastella, PGA Master Professional

Michigan PGA Rules Official

Staff Writer for Mike Fay Golf

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