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Rules Man: When faced with having to make a drop within two club lengths, most people use their driver, since it’s the longest club in their bag. But with long putters suddenly becoming the latest craze, I was wondering if it’s legal to use one of them if it’s actually longer than your driver. It seems like there must be a Rule against it, but I can’t find one anywhere.
— Bruce Rigby, via e-mail
You can stop looking — there is nothing in the Rules of Golf that prohibits a player from using a long putter or any other club (as long as it is conforming) to measure out club lengths. Some might claim that it’s “against the spirit of the Rules” to do so, but I doubt you’ll see them using their sand wedge in the same spot. And since you already own a long putter, I’m betting that you’re not the type who worries too much about what other people think of him.
Rules Guy: While playing a short par 3, my tee shot came to rest on the fringe of the green. I wanted to putt the ball from the fringe, but a sprinkler head was directly in my line. I asked my so-called buddy if I was entitled to relief from the sprinkler head, but he insisted that I wasn’t. What’s the correct ruling here?
— Dave Cunningham, via e-mail
In this case, your so-called buddy was actually so, so right. Rule 24-2a only gives you relief from an immovable obstruction (like a sprinkler head) on your line of play if both the ball and the obstruction are on the putting green. This is one case in which “close” is not close enough — since you were on the fringe instead of the green, you were not entitled to relief. I hope you listened to your buddy and grabbed your wedge.
Reverend Rules: I was recently playing after a heavy rainfall. My tee shot landed just outside of a bunker — close enough that I was going to have to take my stance from inside the bunker to play my second shot. But when I looked at the bunker, I realized that my stance would have to be taken in the middle of a large puddle. I wanted to take a free drop, but my partner said that because the water was in the hazard, I could not. Is that true?
— David Leung, via e-mail
Your partner, unfortunately, is all wet. Rule 25-1a gives you the right to free relief while standing in casual water, as long as your ball is not in a water hazard. Since your ball lay “through the green,” you should have found the nearest point of relief through the green (whether your feet were in or out of the bunker), and dropped the ball within one club-length of that point, no closer to the hole and not in the hazard. Next time, don’t let your partner leave you in the drink.