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Rules of Golf

The Octopus Rule

This content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.

A reader has drawn my attention to the fact that one of the modules on the R&A Level 2 Rules School is titled, ‘The Octopus – Rule 20’. I had not heard this expression used in connection with Rule 20 before, but the reason is fairly obvious; an octopus has 8 tentacles and Rule 20 cover the 8 circumstances under which a ball that has been dropped must be re-dropped, because it did not come to rest in a place permitted by the Rules. But, I hear some of you say, there are only seven circumstances listed (numbered (i) to (vii)) as to why a dropped ball must be re-dropped. I have not attended this particular Rules course, but from the R&A Rules diagram above it seems that they are counting the (vii)(a) and (vii)(b) as two separate reasons. But, see my comment relating to this at the end of the blog.



 15 03 Rule 20 2c
15 03 Rule 20 2c

Here are the seven (eight?) instances when a dropped ball must be re-dropped under Rule 20-2c;

A dropped ball must be re-dropped, without penalty, if it:
(i) rolls into and comes to rest in a hazard;
(ii) rolls out of and comes to rest outside a hazard;
(iii) rolls onto and comes to rest on a putting green;
(iv) rolls and comes to rest out of bounds;
(v) rolls to and comes to rest in a position where there is interference by the condition from which relief was taken under Rule 24-2b (immovable obstruction), Rule 25-1 (abnormal ground conditions), Rule 25-3 (wrong putting green) or a Local Rule (Rule 33-8a), or rolls back into the pitch-mark from which it was lifted under Rule 25-2 (embedded ball);
(vi) rolls and comes to rest more than two club-lengths from where it first struck a part of the course; or
(vii) rolls and comes to rest nearer the hole than:
(a) its original position or estimated position (see Rule 20-2b) unless otherwise permitted by the Rules; or
(b) the nearest point of relief or maximum available relief (Rule 24-2, 25-1 or 25-3); or
(c) the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard or lateral water hazard (Rule 26-1).

So, the R&A Rules diagram seems to imply that the above are the eight reasons when a dropped ball must be re-dropped. However, this means that there are actually nine situations in total, as Rule 20-2a states;

If the ball, when dropped, touches any person or the equipment of any player before or after it strikes a part of the course and before it comes to rest, the ball must be re-dropped, without penalty.

In which case this ‘Octopus’ has nine tentacles!