RENSLOW: Don’t risk it, know the rules |

RENSLOW: Don’t risk it, know the rules

One purpose of this column is to answer your questions.

And, there’s no such thing as a dumb question, right? Even if we get a question that might only affect us if we’re a long way from home.

Whether in person or letter (e-mail) Get Into Golf receives many questions. Those with filled with intrigue or generally humorous are mutually beneficial to answer here. This one comes from a few folks trying to avoid this brisk winter we are enjoying.

Imagine that you are on a vibrant, green golf course, fairways are defined by sandy beaches, and palm trees surround the greens. Your tee shot travels a little left of perfect and bounds down the slope toward small inlet of water, nearly hidden by a grouping of thick reeds.

Your stroll down the fairway and you turn to locate your inconsiderate golf ball. Hmmm, we don’t see it on the grass, even the taller stuff. It must be down, near the water. There it is. Now we can see it. It’s on dry land and we might be able to play it.

Uh, oh. An ominous sound has just revealed a foreboding creature and it’s getting closer to your golf ball. The creature is large and green and has big teeth, which might even be smiling at you.

It might be that this 6-foot alligator has already eaten breakfast, but you just don’t want to take that chance. However, this shot is important, we’re having the round of our life and we don’t want to abandon the ball. Not only are golf balls expensive, but we would incur a penalty shot. Or do we?

No. The United States Golf Association’s decision on the Rules of Golf covers just this type of situation. According to Rule 1-4/10, if a player’s ball comes to rest in a position that is dangerous to the player, the player may, without penalty, drop a ball on the nearest spot (not nearer to the hole) that is not dangerous. Then keep playing. No penalty.

Of course, we won’t see too many alligators in our neck of the woods. But, you never know when you might encroach on a rattlesnake or a bee’s nest may not be too far away. The good news is that you’re covered under the rules.

Sometimes we look at a set of rules as if they would be too confining. Yet, often times the Rules of Golf can help us out, especially if it’s a potentially life-altering predicament.

John Renslow is a PGA Class A Professional and Instructor at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at

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