MEMBERSHIPRules Topic – Embedded Ball Rule 16.3

Rules Topic – Embedded Ball Rule 16.3

16.3  Embedded Ball

a. When Relief Is Allowed

Relief is allowed only when your ball is embedded in the general areaBut if your ball is embedded on the putting green, you may mark the spot of your ball, lift and clean it, repair the damage, and replace your ball on its original spot.

Exceptions – When Relief Not Allowed for Ball Embedded in General Area:

  • When your ball is embedded in sand in a part of the general area that is not cut to fairway height or less, or

  • When interference by anything other than your ball being embedded makes your stroke clearly unreasonable (for example, when you are unable to make a stroke because of where your ball lies in a bush).

Your ball is embedded only if it is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of your previous stroke and part of your ball is below the level of the ground.

b. Relief for Embedded Ball

When your ball is embedded in the general area, you may take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball as shown in Diagram 16.3b.

Penalty for Playing a Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 16.3: General Penalty.

United States Golf Association “Rules and Interpretations” 16.3Embedded Ball Rules of Golf 2019


  • Spottinger

    What if there is no relief available within one club length without say dropping in the bunker immediately behind or 90 degrees each way from the ball.


      Great question. Short answer, you are not always entitled to free relief. In the situation as you have explained, the free relief requirements can not be met and therefore free relief may not be granted.

    • José rocha

      Clarification 16.3b/1 does not apply in the situation of a Ball embedded in the bunker wall when there is physical space below the embedded ball. This rule clarifies the procedure when the POINT IMMEDIATELY BELOW THE EMBEDDED BALL IS NOT IN THE GENERAL AREA. It happens that this point is only verified when the ball is stuck on the lower limit of the bunker wall (general area), tangent to the sand and leaves no room for the existence of this reference point. If it is to be determined, it must be obtained next to and above the ball stuck in the ground, in order to respect the imposition of not being closer to the flag.
      Therefore, the reference point must be the point immediately behind, that is, below. Note that if there is a few centimeters of distance to the sand on the wall where the ball was stuck, the reference point should be determined as the point immediately below on the wall, general area, since the relief area is not measured in the horizontal plane, or across the ground, but following the slope of the ground as defined by Relief Area (… it is not allowed to measure across ground that is naturally irregular). From here the relief area measurement would be taken with the bat in the almost vertical plane of the bunker wall and the remaining part of the length of the bat in the horizontal part, which breaks the bunker wall horizontally, general area. This is my opinion.

      Translated with (free version)

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