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Unplayable Lie Rule

Posted July 10, 2015 in beginner intermediate distance control rules

According to the USGA rules of golf, an unplayable lie is when you consider the ball to be unhittable, or unplayable, except if the ball is in a water hazard, or out of bounds. As you can see below, our player has found his ball plugged deep into the lip of the bunker. This is an example of a ball that might be declared unplayable.


Here our player finds his ball directly behind a tree, blocking his shot into the green. This is another example of a ball that might be declared unplayable.


When you proclaim an unplayable lie, pick up the ball from its current location and give yourself a one stroke penalty. Then you may do one of these three things.


1. Drop a ball as nearly as possible to the spot you originally hit from. As pictured in the photo, our player declared his ball unplayble following his tee shot. Thinking it was best given the circumstances, he elected to re-tee.


2. Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot at which the ball is dropped. You may drop it as far back from that point as you want, but make sure you keep a straight line between the hole, and the spot where you declared the ball unplayable.


3. Drop the ball within 2 club lengths from the spot where the ball lay. Make sure you drop the ball no closer to the hole.


Read Rule 28 in the USGA Rule Book for greater detail.