Dear Rules Guy: I hit a tee shot that landed a couple of inches inside a water hazard. It was playable, but as I made my way to my ball, an alligator came along and ate it! I guess technically the ball wasn’t lost, but I was not going to argue with the alligator. I asked at the pro shop what the rule was and was told, tongue in cheek, that it was a one-stroke penalty for the alligator. What is the actual rule?
— Bob Steeves, Glen Haven, Nova Scotia
Losing only a ball in this case is a win for you. Fortunately, Rule 19-1 (ball at rest moved by an outside agency) allows you to take a free drop as near as possible to the original spot of the ball, no closer to the hole. If your scaly friend doesn’t feel like moving after his lunch, find your nearest point of relief from the danger and drop there.