Unplayable Lie Golf Rule – What Are Your Options?

In golf, you’ll likely find yourself in a situation at some point in time where you cannot make a swing at the ball. This could be your golf ball resting up against a tree or maybe it rolled inside of a bush.

If you end up in a situation where your ball is still in play but you cannot make a swing at it to advance the ball, then you have the option to claim an “unplayable lie.”

The unplayable lie golf rule allows a player to incur a one-stroke penalty in exchange for taking relief from the obstacle or lie that is preventing your swing.

A lot of times, taking the one-stroke penalty can actually save you strokes. Why?

Because if you attempted to make a play on the ball in the difficult situation you found the ball in, odds are you could end up spending multiple strokes trying to get out of trouble, instead of just incurring the one stroke penalty.

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Options When Claiming an Unplayable Lie

You have 3 options if you are claiming an unplayable lie.

Option #1: Go back to the point from where you hit your last golf shot from.

Option #2: Drop the golf ball within a two club length distance of your unplayable lie and nearest point of relief without going closer towards the hole.

Option #3: Draw a straight line from your unplayable golf ball and the flagstick on the green. Extend this line backwards, away from the hole as far as you want, and pick a spot that falls on the line to drop your ball.

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These are the only 3 options available to golfers when facing an unplayable lie ruling.

Remember, new golf rules state that you must drop the golf ball from knee height if you are taking relief.

Another tip when measuring your two club lengths in option #2 is to use your driver since it is the longest golf club in the bag. It’s a legal way of giving yourself more room if needed so you have more options of where to drop the ball during an unplayable lie situation.

Overall, consider taking the one stroke penalty and improving your balls position so you can continue on hitting it towards the green. Don’t get risky and try to swing at the unplayable lie, it could cost you far more strokes than the one stroke penalty for moving your ball into a clear shot position.

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