Ask the Rules Guy: Wicked slices and left-handed swings

Ask the Rules Guy: Wicked slices and left-handed swings


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DEAR RULES GUY: My dad hit a wicked slice off the tee, sending his ball out of bounds, over a railroad track, past another set of out-of-bounds stakes and onto a fairway on a neighboring hole. I told him to retee because his shot had crossed the O.B. line for the hole we were playing, but he countered that because his ball had landed inbounds, it was in play.
Bill Murphy, Spokane, Wash.

Rules Guy couldn’t help but think of John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles with his classic 'You’re going the wrong way!' line. But your pops was sitting pretty. According to Decision 27/20, because his ball came to rest inbounds it was still in play (unless a Local Rule stated otherwise). In other words, it matters not where you’ve been, but where you come to rest.

My ball stopped inches from a water hazard. The depth and severe slope of the hazard prevented me from taking a stance in the hazard and forced me to play the shot left-handed. But when I addressed the ball southpaw, a sprinkler head impeded my stance, so I took a free drop. After the drop, I was able to swing right-handed again, which I did. Was this kosher?

Pete S., via e-mail

Your switch-hitting may reek of trouble, but it’s actually a Rules home run. Under Decision 24-2b/17, you are entitled to relief from the sprinkler head because an abnormal swing (i.e., your Phil impression) was reasonable given the circumstances. After the drop, you can swing from either side of the ball. Chalk this one up as a helping (right) hand from the Rules.