Written by Joyce McCann, 18ers Rules Chair.
The second hole on the Dollar course is a short par 3, but it’s not easy because the green is protected by bunkers in front and on both the left and right sides. Let’s see how the new rules might apply to common situations we might find ourselves in on this hole.
Let’s say your tee shot is decent, but is a little left and short of the green, landing in the bunker at the front left. When you approach the green, you see that your ball is close to a twig (a loose impediment) that will interfere with your swing and make your attempt to get the ball out of the bunker very difficult. Not yet aware of the new rules, you think you can’t remove the twig and you try to hit the ball out anyway. That doesn’t work so well, and the ball buries under the lip. Under the new rules (Rule 15.1), you could have removed the twig (or any other loose impediment) with no penalty, giving you a reasonable chance of splashing the ball out onto the green and saving your par. (Important to remember though, under both the old and new rules, if your ball moves when you remove the loose impediment, you have to replace the ball and take a 1-stroke penalty.)
With your second shot buried under the lip, you decide to declare it unplayable. Under both the old and new rules, you will have to take a 1-stroke penalty. Under the old rules, you have 3 options: 1) Go back to where you hit the previous shot (in this case, in the bunker); 2) Drop a ball on a line between the ball and the hole, but still in the bunker; or 3) Drop a ball within 2-club lengths no nearer the hole, but still in the bunker. However, under the new rules (Rule 19.3) you have an additional option. For a second penalty stroke, you can take back-on-the-line relief that extends outside the bunker. Thus, if you are one of us that has a hard time getting out of bunkers, this extra option may be for you.
So, in this example, playing by the old rules, your second shot would have been very difficult because of the twig, and attempting the shot resulted in an unplayable ball still in the bunker. Playing by the new rules improves both of these situations: 1) Removal of the twig gives you a better chance of getting out of the bunker and saving your par; and 2) Using the additional relief option for an unplayable lie by extending back-on-the-line relief beyond the bunker gives you a way of avoiding taking several shots to get out of the bunker if bunkers just aren’t your thing.
Finally, a couple of additional rules changes that come into play in this example:
1) Under the old rules, dropping a ball involved dropping it from shoulder height. Under the new rules, the ball must always be dropped from knee height.
2) Under the old rules, when you took relief by 1- or 2- club lengths, the club you could use varied according to the situation. Under the new rules, a club length is defined as always the longest club in your bag (not counting the putter).