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\nDEAR RULES GUY: I had a fast downhill putt for eagle with the pin cut near the front edge of the green. My putt ran past the hole, off the green and into a water hazard fronting the green. Since it wasn't a lateral hazard and the ball was not playable, I dropped behind the hazard, meaning that I had to hit back over the hazard onto the green. Did I have any other options?
Monty S., via e-mail
\nYour rules knowledge is impressiveyou proceeded exactly as you should have under Rule 26-1b. However, if you had thumbed back a little bit in the rulebook, you would have seen that you had another option under Rule 26-1a: You could have simply placed a ball on the green under penalty of stroke and distance. By going this route, you could have drained your next putt for par, or at least two-putted for bogey.
\nDEAR RULES GUY:
When I began participating in local 'long drive' contests, I 'upgraded' from my 46' big stick to a 49.5-incher, the longest allowed in my competitions. When I brought my new driver out on the course, however, the rest of my foursome claimed that it violated the Rules. I played with it that day and had a new low score, but they refuse to let me come out next week unless I leave the big dog at home.
Jon Evans, Manchester, N.H.
\nThe Rules Guy has it on good authority that you may be in luck: most sanctioned long-drive competitions require you to use USGA-approved equipment, but they measure driver length differently than the USGA. Appendix 2, 1c of the Rules of Golf lays out both the maximum length for conforming clubs (48 inches for drivers) and the proper way to measure them. If you measure your club by USGA standards and it doesn't conform, you violated Rule 14-3, a notorious round-killer. Not only will you have to crawl back to your friends with your old driver, you're going to have to change that low score to a 'DQ.'