One of the most anticipated “new” Rules for 2019 was the optional Local Rule that provides an alternative to the stroke-and-distance penalty for a ball lost or out of bounds. This situation is on the list of those times when expectations figuratively crash into reality. The Model Local Rule (MLR) E-5 is found in Committee Procedures and is intensely comprehensive consisting of over four hundred words and several outstanding diagrams. The downside for many players is the enormity of the task of wading through the words.
This particular Local Rule is given to us for a new notion, “general play” and is unlikely to be used at our club championships or any higher-level competitions. That said, it’s a very forward-looking idea that recognizes how many of us play for fun. Lost ball? Throw one down here and let’s move on!
So, what’s the Committee to do? Merely publishing the entire MLR is unlikely to produce any more that a shrug of the shoulders and a return to “Lost ball? Throw one down here and let’s move on!”
One club I know has devised their own words.
Local Rule 2 – If a ball is lost or out of bounds, as an alternative to stroke-and-distance relief, Model Local Rule E-5 may be used. For instance, a player may drop a ball within two club-lengths, but not nearer the hole, of the nearest edge of the fairway at an equal distance from the hole to where the ball was believed to be lost or went out of bounds and add two penalty strokes. This Local Rule may not be used: 1) if a provisional ball is in play, or 2) for a ball in a penalty area, or 3) for an unplayable ball.
Their version recognizes the reality that only a handful of their players will be bothered to wade through the 435 words of MLR E-5 and come away with the knowledge to drop in a “right place.” Their version enables that handful to avail themselves of the entire MLR E-5. On the other hand, all others using the “For instance” will be fine.
That particular course has but a few holes where out of bounds is a threat and there are limited places to lose a ball, so their words work for them. There are certain to be courses where this version mightn’t be suitable.