How “Taking Your Medicine” Will Pay Off

By: Marcela Smith - Sep 09, 2021

We all know the object of golf is to finish each hole in the least amount of strokes, but there are times when choosing to take a penalty stroke may actually save you from a worse score. Here’s how!

The term “stroke-and-distance” means going back to the location of your last shot, and taking a drop for a one-stroke penalty. The most common reason players use stroke-and-distance is when a ball is lost or out-of-bounds. But did you know that the stroke-and-distance option is available at any time, anywhere on the course?

Here are a few situations you can use the stroke-and-distance option under Rule 18.1 and limit the “damage” to just one more stroke:

  • If you can barely see your ball nestled down in foot-long rough, being able to re-tee your ball from the teeing area is a great alternative to whacking away in impossibly thick rough (and you save time by not having to drive up to retrieve the original ball)
  • When your ball is lodged in the lip of a bunker or is on a side-hill lie at the back of a bunker, and your previous shot was from a distance that you usually hit consistently
  • When your ball is up against a tall tree with bushes all around it, making both the lateral relief option and the back-on-the-line option undesirable
  • When your last shot landed in a spot that is in front of a lake or bunker in a side-hill lie and you have little confidence you can hit the ball over the trouble

  • Choosing to use stroke-and-distance can be the smartest option in many challenging scenarios. Using your knowledge of the rules can help you avoid having that frustrating blow-up hole we all hate, and keep your score under control.

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