The hole was very tricky. It angled to the right aiming you right at a huge tree, then took a turn to the left straight at a swamp. Of course, the green was just beyond the swamp and elevated slightly. UGH!
One of my playing partners hit her second shot into the swamp (a lateral hazard). She had a pretty good lie, so she elected to hit the ball. The ball moved about six feet ahead but remained in the hazard. She felt that her stance for this shot would be precarious, so she declared her ball unplayable.
WHAT TO DO?!?!
The options for an unplayable lie are these: (Rule 28)
1) Drop a ball as near as possible to the place from which the ball was hit. (This would have been the previous spot in the hazard.)
2) Take two club-lengths from the ball not nearer the hole. (This would have taken her out of the hazard.)
3) Draw a straight line from the flag through the ball and go back on that line as far as you want. (This would also take her out of the hazard if she went back far enough.)
Our question was whether or not she could change the condition of her lie, i.e. go from hazard to fairway, by using option 2 or 3.
We knew that in stroke play she had the option to play a second ball and then have the determination made after the round, but we couldn’t decide which two options she would use.
Luckily, a rules official helped us out, and we found out that all our indecision was unnecessary. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN UNPLAYABLE LIE IN A WATER HAZARD! Who knew?
She was able to use any of the options for a lateral hazard (Rule 26) with a one-stroke penalty. She elected to go back to the point at which her ball originally crossed into the hazard and take two club-lengths from there. An easy solution.
This would have been obvious if we had read Rule 28 more carefully: “The player may deem his ball unplayable at any place on the course, except when the ball is in a water hazard. The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable.”
So this is how she counted her score: her second shot went into the hazard, her third stayed in the hazard, her fourth was the penalty and her fifth went onto the green.
It’s good to know the rules!