Rules Guy: What do you do when your ball splits in two — and one half is OB?

Rules Guy: What do you do when your ball splits in two — and one half is OB?
golf ball split

What do the rules say about a golf ball that splits in two?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

You hit a ball, and it breaks into two parts. One part lands on the green, the other part out of bounds. What is the rule as to how to proceed? —J. Herring, via email

Did you hit the ball with a golf club or a lawnmower, J? Was this a gutta percha ball or a feathery?

This kind of thing doesn’t happen much anymore, thanks to modern technology, but on the rare occasion it does, Rule 4.2b covers matters — the stroke doesn’t count, and you go back and play again from where you made that last, scything, ill-fated stroke. 

For more OB guidance from our guru, read on …

golf ball on tree branch

Rules Guy: My ball came to rest on a swaying branch over an OB boundary. Can I take an unplayable?


Rules Guy

Our club is using the local two-stroke rule for out of bounds. We have a par 3 with OB about 20 yards behind the green, while the only fairway is in front of the green. So can we drop equidistant from the hole in front of the green if we go out of bounds behind it?
—Neal Prescott, via email

You are referring, per the new-for-2019 nomenclature, to Model Local Rule E-5.

While you’ve got the gist of things, rather than go in a straight line from where the ball last went out of bounds to the opposite side, you instead work on an arc and swing around until you find the nearest fairway point, no closer to the hole than where the original ball went out of bounds. (Think of a compass that is used for technical drawings.)

From there, you get two club-lengths into the fairway to drop, no closer to the hole. That’s model rules behavior.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8 AM Golf affiliate Golf Logix.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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