What To Do When Your Golf Ball Is Stuck In A Tree

Have you ever been in a situation where your golf ball got stuck in a tree? It can be extremely frustrating, and you may not know what to do.

Well, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with the basics of how to handle those hopefully rare occasions when your ball gets lodged in a tree.

What To Do When Your Golf Ball Is Stuck In A Tree
Photo Geoffrey Baker

Assess the Situation

Take a moment to assess the situation – determine if your ball is truly unplayable or if there’s another option.

Is the ball visible, even if it’s stuck in branches? Can you hit it with a club, even though it’s high in a tree? Tread carefully and make sure that you don’t cause any damage to property or wildlife!

Could you play it if you climbed the tree? The Rules of Golf don’t prohibit you from scaling the tree to hit your ball although I doubt most people would want to attempt it. There have been a couple of famous attempts that I can think of:

  • Bernhard Langer at the Benson & Hedges Tournament held at Fulford G.C. in York
  • Nick Faldo climbed a tree in the 1992 US Open at Pebble Beach in an effort to identify his ball.

If the ball is not playable, then according to Rule 19 you are allowed relief from an unplayable lie. This means taking one penalty stroke and dropping your golf ball within two club lengths of where it was originally located, going back on a line keeping the resting place of the ball between you and the flag or playing again from where you played your original shot.

When using the lateral relief option you need to identify the exact location of the ball first.

Langer plays from up a tree

Play It As It Lies

In golf, your first and most obvious option is to play the ball as it lies. Are your tree-climbing skills up to it? If the ball is in a position where you think you could play a stroke then that might be your best option.

Unfortunately, the ball often will finish in an unplayable spot even if you could scale the tree.

So you will need to take relief using Rule 19 as your guide.

Stuck In A Tree
Photo Geoffrey Baker – Stuck In A Tree

Proceed Under Rule 19

In golf, Rule 19 can help guide you when your ball gets stuck in a tree.

You basically have 3 options:

Go back to where you played the ball from originally – the stroke and distance option. If you hit the ball from the tee then you can tee up anywhere within the teeing area. Otherwise, you need to drop within a club length not nearer the hole.

Your second option is to go back on a line keeping the point where your ball is unplayable between you and the hole.

The final option is to drop a ball within two club lengths of where your ball is unplayable but not nearer the hole. This is often the best option when your ball is stuck in a tree.

Each option incurs a one-stroke penalty.

However, make sure to identify your exact location first before attempting this option because if not done so correctly could result in additional penalty strokes.

Taking a drop under rule 19

What To Do When Your Golf Ball Is Stuck In A Tree: Conclusion

No one wants to be in a situation where their ball is stuck in a tree. But if it happens, you can now feel more confident knowing what your options are.

You can choose to play it as it lies but if that isn’t an option, you can use Rule 19 for relief.

Struggling with a slice? Read this article for some tips to iron it out. Looking for a change from the Pro V1? Here are some alternative options.

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