Rules Guy: Does a ball have to cross a certain point in order to use a drop zone?

Viktor Hovland of Norway hits from the drop zone on the 11th hole after taking a penalty during the first round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 23, 2022 in Austin, Texas

Is using the drop zone contingent on hitting your ball past a certain point?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

On a par 3 that requires a carry over water, I topped my tee shot into the drink. There was a drop zone about 50 yards from the green, but my playing partner stated that to take relief from there, my tee shot needed to have landed at least as close to the hole as the drop zone itself. I agreed to play 3 off the tee. Did I get soaked? —Stephen Gallacher, United Kingdom

Your tee shot was undoubtedly all wet; whether you were soaked isn’t exactly cut-and-dried.

That aforementioned “need” would be the case if the Committee specifically made it that way. (It’s a permissible local rule modification for drop zones to allow their use only if a ball last crosses the penalty area edge past a certain point or between certain points.)

It is not, however, part of the requirement for dropping zones in general; see Model Local Rule E-1 and Section 21 of the Committee Procedures Section.

Henrik Stenson of Europe plays a shot from the drop zone during morning foursome matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club on October 1, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota.
Rules Guy: Can I take a penalty and tee off from the drop zone to avoid potentially losing a ball?
By: Rules Guy

For more drop guidance from our guru, read on …

What is the penalty for using a tee in the drop area? —Jeff Howerton, Evansville, Ind.

Nowadays, justice is less severe than, say, in medieval times, but in this case it’s equally harsh: The player has played from a wrong place in breach of Rule 14.7.

Depending on the circumstances, the Committee could consider this a serious breach that requires correction prior to starting the next hole or results in a DQ in stroke play, under Rule 14.7b.

Failing that, it’s the general penalty of two strokes. In match play, the penalty is simply loss of hole. Plus, the rack. Kidding!

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