I often receive questions concerning the different options available for a ball in an unplayable lie:
b- Drop a ball behind the point, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped.
c- Drop a ball within two club length of the spot where the ball lay.
These are the basic options but I must clarify certain situations:
a- Ball unplayable in a bunker
If the player chooses option b or c, he must drop a ball in the bunker. He may not get out of the bunker. Option a is available also.
b- Ball unplayable in a water hazard
The only option available is a. In the following situation there is a lake between our ball and the green. I hit my ball almost over the lake at a few inches from the limit of the hazard very close to the green. I am not allowed to declare my ball unplayable and use the 2 club-length option if the ball lies in the hazard. I must return where the ball last crossed the limit of the hazard very close to the tee.
c- Ball unplayable again after dropping under any of the options
In this unfortunate situation the player must under another one-stroke penalty use any of the options. He may also use the option a.
d- Ball unplayable and we had previously played a provisional ball
This rule is not well known: If you find your original ball in any position, the provisional ball is dead. If the player decides to use option a he must abandon the provisional ball and return to the previous area and put a ball in play under Stroke and Distance.
e- Jordan Spieth at the Open
In a very long ruling, Spieth took advantage of option b. There is no limit how far back a player may drop a ball under this option. In the near future I will give more explanations on this rule.