This handy rules option is almost like cheating!
By Lynn Blasch
Every golfer knows that some rules, when breached, require the player to adjust his or her score by one or two shots. On a more positive note, knowledge of the rules can help a player make the best of a difficult situation.
Consider the seventh hole at Springfield. The creek which parallels the fairway is properly marked with red stakes and lines, which means it is a lateral water hazard. The most common situation is that the player’s ball enters the hazard from the fairway side of the creek. The player can elect to play the ball as it lies for no penalty. If the ball cannot be played from the hazard, there are four penalty options, but almost every player will take relief by dropping, with a one stroke penalty, within two clublengths of the spot where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, no nearer the hole.Less well known, or even contemplated, is that another of the four penalty options available to the player under Rule 26-1 allows the same two clublength drop on the opposite margin of the hazard, equidistant from the hole.So at Springfield, if your ball enters the hazard from the fairway side, you are unlikely to consider dropping on the opposite margin (cart path side) because the terrain is sloping and the rough is usually sun-baked. But suppose your ball lands on the cart path side and then bounces into the hazard. One look will tell you that instead of dropping in the difficult terrain on that side of the hazard, you are far more likely to get a flatter lie on the opposite margin, or fairway side, of the hazard.
In summary, there are not many opportunities at Springfield to take advantage of the opposite margin option (the left side of number two and the pond to the left of 16 green may be the next best times to consider the option) but whenever you play number seven, or any other course which has lateral water hazards, try to remember that you are entitled to the opposite margin option.
Source: Clublife article from www.sgccva.org