Rules School: Hit one out of bounds? This new local rule can save you strokes and time

**NOTE** The following “Local Rule” is not meant to apply to competitive rounds.

There are few things in golf that feel worse than blasting a tee shot out of bounds and reloading with your third shot from the tee box. Even worse, looking for a wayward ball down the fairway only to have to make a walk of shame back to the tee when your search comes up empty. It’s arguable which is worse: Your own self-loathing? Or judgment from the group behind?

Luckily, these situations can be avoided under the new Rules of Golf. 

Scenario: You hit your tee shot out of bounds.

Old rule: The previous rule required that golfers take a stroke-and-distance penalty for lost balls. This meant the player had to reload from the tee box playing their third shot. This was the only option.

New rule: A new local rule was introduced with the newest edition of the Rules of Golf when they were released in 2019. The new stroke-and-distance local rule allows players the option of dropping in the fairway if they so choose. Players must find where their ball went out of bounds and create an imaginary perpendicular to the fairway, no closer to the hole. From there, you can now drop anywhere within two club-lengths behind the line. The next shot will be your fourth. This rule keeps groups moving and speeds up play.

If you find yourself watching your ball sail toward a two-stroke penalty, remember the new stroke-and-distance local rule to save yourself from a walk of shame back to the tee box.

USGA Video:

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