I committed a Tiger-esque rules infraction last weekend in a match play round. Felt like a heel. But would love to hear some opinions on how it went down.
The 13th at the course is a dogleg right par 4. On the right and short is a pond - and you more or less have to hit over some part of the pond to hit the fairway. Along the left and long is a creek. It also has a drop area - which I have marked in red with a "D".
I have played this hole a thousand times and found the pond about 600 times, the creek about 150 times and the fairway the rest. It is a pretty tough tee shot in my opinion. Since I was up in my match, I decided to play it super safe and hit iron more or less toward the drop zone since I end up there pretty often anyway. My thinking was that it was better to be there in 1 than in 2.
So of course I crush the shot like never before and pull-hook it. It appears to go off into the creek or thereabouts at the red X - somewhere I've never hit it before. I search for it and conclude it must have gone in the drink.
Frustrated, I drop one in the drop zone, play out, and card a 6. My opponent also got a 6 - but he is awesome at golf and so he had to give me a stroke and I win the hole.
In the middle of regaling the details of the match to a friend the next day - it occurs to me that the drop zone might not (probably doesn't) apply to all of the hazards on the hole - but rather just the pond. I had never given it a second thought when on the course b/c normally if you hit it in the creek - you hit it in much closer to the hole and the drop zone wouldn't really be a consideration. This was the first time I'd been in the creek - but still near the drop zone.
So I called the clubhouse and told them about it. Turns out the drop zone is meant to only apply to the pond. And in thinking about it now in retrospect, I don't know if a drop zone would ever be used for a lateral hazard. Not sure. That's one of the reasons I'm posting it. Anyway, about this time, I'm sure I'll have to forfeit the match.
Turns out another guy had done the same thing and so they already had a ruling. They rule that since the card and the rules sheet they handed out did not specify which hazard(s) the drop zone was to be used for - that they couldn't hold us responsible for playing it wrong. The card says something like - Optional drop zones on holes 4, 7, 13 and 17.
I feel like I got off pretty easy on this one. Mainly because now it occurs to me that I don't ever remember seeing a drop zone for lateral hazards - and maybe it is something a golfer should know. Further, it seems strange to have a rule that - if you don't know the rule, you are exempt from following it.