Free Drop Of My Golf Ball When It’s Embedded?

A rules question for you Golf Nut.  I was playing recently and my partner’s golf ball was embedded in a soft part of the fairway. It was really plugged and made a shot really difficult.  Can he get relief in this situation?Well the rules are pretty straightforward on this one.  But there can be a complication of sorts.  But to the basics first.  Rule 25-2 says that a golf ball embedded in its own pitch mark may be lifted, cleaned, and dropped without penalty.

The complication comes in when your golf ball is not in its own pitch mark.   In that case, then Rule 13 kicks in, which is play the ball as it lies.  Many golfers I see play winter rules especially when it comes to divots and pitch marks from previous shots.  They roll the ball to a better lie and think nothing about it.  But the bottom line is, if your ball is not in its own pitch mark, you have to play it.

So the question is do you know that your partner’s ball was in its own or another pitch mark.  That’s the complication part.  My experience is that you can usually see or tell which is the case.  But that is really the determining factor in whether relief is allowed or not.

Thanks for the question, and thanks to all you golf nuts for the rules questions.  I am glad to see more and more golfers wanting to understand the rules of golf!

There Are 6 Responses So Far. »

  1. David,

    I know that your questioner was asking about a ball that was embedded in “a soft part of the fairway”, for which there is relief. However, I think that it is worth emphasising that Rule 25-2 states,
    A ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground in any closely mown area through the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green. “Closely mown area” means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.”

    In other words, there is no relief for a ball that is embedded in its own pitch mark in the rough.

    I think that the explanation of embedded will also help your readers,
    For a ball to be considered embedded, it must be in its own pitch-mark with part of the ball below the level of the ground. However, the ball does not necessarily have to touch the soil to be considered embedded, e.g., grass or loose impediments may intervene between the ball and the soil.

    Barry Rhodes

  2. wht if your ball embeds in the rough (area not mown to fairway height). free drop or not??

  3. A ball embedded in it’s own pitchmark anywhere “through the green” mmy be eligible for a free drop if published in local rules. NO local rule NO free drop in the rough. See appendix 1 part B of R&A rules for details.

  4. It is not quite true to say “there is no relief for a ball embedded in its own pitchmmark in the rough”
    You may under the R&A rules rules (appx 1 part B para 4) publish a local rule giving relief “through the green” which includes the rough. In my club I publis such a local rule as part of our winter rules.

  5. This rule has come into play a lot this cool, rainy, soggy, damp spring. Lift, clean and drop should be the rule whenever a ball plugs. But beware: the rule doe not allow that so be prepared to play a wet, muddy, slick golf ball.

  6. David
    I enjoyed reading your site. One of the things I love about golf is the traditions of the game. Yes rules and character building that follows we (all) must ad hear to. All other sports are changing the rules to make it easier for the novice. The $$$$ rule! Keep it up I’ll be back!

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