Get it right on the course more often with our monthly R&A masterclass
We look at lateral water hazards, overhead cables, movable obstructions and boundary walls
hona McRae, R&A assistant director Ð Rules, explains where JB Holmes went wrong when taking a drop from a lateral water hazard during the WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipÉ
Confusing your options for relief from a lateral water hazard can be costly, as JB Holmes found out to his detriment at this year’s WGC-Cadillac Championship. On Doral’s opening hole, Holmes put his tee shot into a lateral water hazard. Seeking relief, the 33-year-old decided to drop the ball on the ‘opposite margin’, giving him a much easier shot to the hole.
Under Rule 26-1, available as additional options for relief only if the ball last crossed the margin of a lateral water hazard (red stakes and/ or lines), you may also drop a ball:
(i) outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of, and not nearer the hole than, the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard, or
(ii) within two club-lengths of a point on the opposite side of the lateral water hazard equidistant to the hole from the point where the ball last crossed the margin.
Holmes established correctly the point on the opposite margin of the lateral water hazard, but then mistakenly dropped the ball back on a line from that point, rather than within the specified two club-lengths. The option to drop a ball back on a line must be assessed from the original point of entry, and not from the equidistant point on the opposite side of the lateral water hazard.
When Holmes reached the putting green, a referee advised him that he had played from a wrong place. If a player makes a stroke from a wrong place, he incurs a penalty of two strokes and must play out the hole with the ball played from the wrong place. However, Holmes was also told that his breach was considered a ‘serious breach’ of the Rules due to the advantage he had gained.
Consequently, in line with Rule 20-7c, Holmes had to correct the error and complete the hole with a second ball played in accordance with the Rules. He did this by returning to the lateral water hazard where, this time, he correctly dropped a ball within two club-lengths on the opposite side of the lateral water hazard equidistant from the point where it last crossed the margin of the hazard.
The score with the second ball counted and Holmes was penalised two strokes, posting a double-bogey 7. However, it could have been worse: if he had teed off on the next hole without correcting his error, he would have been disqualified from the tournament.
JB Holmes at the WGC-Cadillac at Doral
Under penalty of one stroke, you may...
drop a ball back on a line from where the ball last crossed the margin
play again from the spot of the last stroke, or
drop a ball within two clublengths from where ball last crossed margin of the hazard or an equidistant point on the opposite margin