Ball Unplayable Rule 28


In a weekend tournament recently, a player found what he thought was his ball in an unplayable position. He was unable to retrieve the ball and decided to drop a ball within two club lengths, no closer to the hole (Rule 28c).

After playing the shot, he found the original ball about twenty feet away in a playable position. What is the ruling?


The rule, Rule 28c, allows a player to drop a ball within two club lengths no closer to the hole from his ball in an unplayable situation. In this case, the mistake made was not identifying the ball to be certain the ball found in the unplayable position was the player’s.

Because it turned out not to be the player’s ball, he dropped a substituted ball and played from a wrong place. The proper procedure in this case, since he could not say for certain it was his ball, would be to invoke rule 27-1 which is the stroke and distance rule.

The player received a one stroke penalty for rule 27-1, stroke and distance, and an additional two strokes for hitting from a wrong place.*


A couple of key points: This is a situation where being able to identify your ball by a distinguishing mark, would have prevented this problem. It’s best to always put a mark on your ball for identification. Just saying, “I hit a Titleist and this one looks like it,” will not work in a tournament situation. You must be able to identify your ball.

*If this was a serious breach, which means where he played from gave him a significant advantage, he must correct the error prior to teeing off on the next hole, or before walking off the green on the final hole. If not, the player would be disqualified. The player should go back and play a second ball from the correct position and advise the committee of the situation after play and before turning in his score card.

If he does so and the second ball is deemed to count, he only incurs the two stroke penalty for playing from a wrong place. Any strokes and penalties incurred with the first dropped ball do not count.


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