Yesterday, on Copper Creek #4 I hit a ball on a straight line towards the right (fairway) edge of a cart path that runs parallel to both the fairway and a lateral WH with the fairway being about 10 feet to the right and the hazard being less than 10 feet to the left of the path for over 100 yards.
I couldn't tell if the ball hit the path, but a guy I was playing with who seemed to have better eyes said that it bounced twice on the path before he lost sight of it. Had the ball continued on the path it took from the tee to the cart path, it would NOT have gone into the hazard. Other than the hazard, there is only short grass around, so the only place for a ball to become lost is in the hazard.
My question is what do I pick as my entry point to the hazard (as I did not find the ball, but did find two others inches in the hazard)? There are two points of the hazard that stick out a bit, about 60 yards apart. My best guess of entry point would be a 40% chance of going into the farther point that sticks out, a 30% chance going into the area that sticks out bit close to the tee and a 30% chance that it went in somewhere between these two points (that are about 60 yards apart). Where should I drop? Should my "estimate" be a weighted average of all the possible entry points?
Here is an look at the landing area from above https://maps.google.com/maps?q=copper+mountain&ll=39.50277,-106.146689&spn=0.001699,0.001988&fb=1&gl=us&hq=copper+mountain&cid=0,0,15119453119220950395&t=h&z=19
From a 2011 thread:
In a case such as yours you have to take your best estimate as to where the ball entered the hazard based on the information available. If it was certain that the ball cleared the hazard before reentering it, then you are correct - estimate a point as near as possible to where the ball likely crossed into the hazard and take your measurement from that point.
The rule states that your reference point for taking penalty relief is the "point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard". It doesn't say anything about if that point is uncertain you regress to the previous point. What would your brother say if it had only entered the hazard once, but the point was uncertain? That you have to take the stroke and distance penalty. Once again, the rules do not punish you to that extent. You estimate the point as best you can and proceed from there.