Relief from an Unplayable Lie

Unplayable Lie
Unplayable Lie Bunker

If you are in a situation where you don’t want to or don’t think you can play your ball, you always have the option of taking relief under the unplayable ball Rule. The player is the only person who can decide that their ball is unplayable, and this can be done anywhere on the golf course except when your ball lies in a penalty area. If your ball is in a penalty area, your only relief option is to take relief under the penalty area Rule.

When you decide that your ball is unplayable, you have three relief options, all for 1 penalty stroke.

If your ball lies in a bunker, you must remain inside the bunker under options two and three. You also have a fourth option for an extra penalty stroke (two penalty strokes total) which allows you to go back on the line and drop your ball outside the bunker. Click here to learn more about these options in our video on bunkers.


  1. Take a drop as close to the point where you took the original shot. You may tee it up if the original shot was taken from the teeing ground.
  2. Take a drop within 2 club lengths from the point where the ball came to rest.
  3. Take a drop anywhere along the direct line of sight from the hole location through the point at which your ball lies, no closer to the hole. The ball must come to rest within 1 club length of this line.
  4. Option 4 is only available when taking relief from a bunker. You may drop the ball outside the bunker along the direct line of sight from the hole location through the point at which your lies, no closer to the hole. This option incurs a 2 penalty stroke.