8. Elimination of Opposite Side Relief for Red Penalty Areas
: Rule 26-1c provides two extra options for taking relief from a lateral (red) water
hazard; the player may drop a ball within two club-lengths of (and not nearer the hole than):
Ø The point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard, or
Ø A point on the opposite margin of the hazard equidistant from the hole (Rule 26-1c(ii)).
Proposed Rule: New Rule 17.1c would remove the option to take relief on the opposite side of a
red penalty area (the new term that would include what is today called a lateral water hazard):
Ø This means that, when a ball is in a red penalty area, the player would have three options for relief (all for a one-stroke penalty) rather than four options as today.
Ø But a Committee could still adopt a Local Rule allowing opposite side relief on those holes where it believes the other relief options are not viable.
Reasons for Change:
Ø Opposite side relief is a complicated option that many players are not familiar with and that is seldom used.
Ø The primary purpose behind this relief was to give an extra relief option for the unusual cases where neither back-on-a-line relief (Rule 26-1b) nor lateral relief on the side where the ball entered the water hazard (Rule 26-1c(i)) seem viable and the player’s only realistic option is to take relief under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 26-1a).
Ø In practice, opposite side relief is often taken when a player actually has adequate relief under one or both of the other relief options and thus serves only to give an unnecessary extra option that at times can seem too advantageous.
o For example, where a stream runs next to a fairway and a line of trees or thicker rough is on the other side, a ball that is poorly played into the trees or rough and then bounces back into the water can result in the player being allowed to take relief on the fairway.
o For larger bodies of water such as a pond or small lake, opposite side relief can allow the player to play from a considerable distance away from where the ball entered the water or came to rest and/or to play from the fairway of another hole.
o Removing this option may, in rare situations, result in a player’s best (or only) option being stroke-and-distance relief; there is nothing wrong with a player sometimes having to do so.
Ø Assessing the relief option for opposite side relief can take considerable time and so eliminating this option should benefit pace of play.
Ø This change would also help avoid any concern that, with the expanded use of red penalty areas, a player might be able to use the opposite side option to drop on the green side of the penalty area, thereby avoiding the challenge of having to play over the penalty area.