Rule 19.2 – Relief Options for Unplayable Ball in General Area or on Putting Green

I have said over and over again that understanding the rules of golf is important to shooting low golf scores or saving your round. There is no doubt that Rule 19.2 can make or break your round; I know this because it has done both to my game in the past. However, today’s article is a result of my friend Mac asking me about an unplayable lie he had recently experienced. I thought it would be a good time to talk about this important rule.

Mac asked: “Quick rules question. I hit a tee shot thin, it flew past the green into the woods. I found the ball and deemed it unplayable. I dropped it back along the line to the nearest point of relief. I think what i should have done it gone back along the line to the tee to a point no closer to the hole than where my ball was resting. I was about 50 yards past the hole. So I should have dropped 50 yards away from the hole in front the hole.”

Without dissecting his question, I thought it would be easier to provide him with this diagram from the rules of golf:

Additionally, I offered this video:

Mac thanked me for the explanation and feels confident that the next time he experiences and unplayable lie he will know what to do.

For full disclosure, I wrote about this issue under the old rules. Under the rules before 2019 – unplayable lies fell under rule 28. Interestingly, the new rules are exactly the same as before. I think this was a great common sense decision by the govern bodies. Finally, I think that all amateurs should know this rule because it is a stroke saver and potentially a tournament saver.

Have you ever used this rule?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

6 thoughts on “Rule 19.2 – Relief Options for Unplayable Ball in General Area or on Putting Green

  1. Jim, thanks for sharing the info-graphic. It’s a clear and helpful depiction of the rule. Many players get confused on how to take relief for an unplayable lie with the three options.

    Hope you don’t have to use too often!




  2. Sometimes this honor thing in golf stings. Yes, I’ve had to use this rule. lol I’ve even had to take one recently similar to your buddy’s though I didn’t fly 50 yards past the green. I landed on a sprinkler head trying to land it in short from about 130 out to a close pin and bounced off the back right into an ornamental palm bush. Unfortunately, I failed to get up and down for bogey. I got under my chip on the fluffy lie and didn’t get it close enough to 1 putt.
    I saw this in the video’s presented on YouTube below the one you posted. He does a fine job of explaining our worst mistakes with rules on the course including this one.
    This is an older video as referenced by his taking a drop from shoulder height. He gives explanations on the top 3 rules violations we make including this one.


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