Ask the Rules Guy: When a severe slope makes it impossible to place your ball

Ask the Rules Guy

Rules Guy:
My son hit an approach shot that plugged into a steep slope on the green, well above the hole. After lifting and cleaning the ball — which I know he can do — he tried to replace it, but it wouldn't stay! Should we have found the nearest flat spot, which was off the back of the green? Or was it okay to let him play it from where it rolled?
— Brent Saylor, Johns Creek, Ga.

The ruling is simple enough. Harder to understand is why the green is slicker than a Super-G course in the first place. Somebody needs a stern talking-to: either the designer or your Stimp-happy greenskeeper. As for your son, no, he can't play the hand-wedge. Rule 20-3d(i) says that a ball that won't come to rest when placed must be placed on the nearest spot where it will stay that is not closer to the hole, even if that spot is off the green.