A ball which is hit in "abnormal ground" (ground under repair, deemed by an outline, or casual water) in the USGA rulebook, through the green (Normal grass playing areas) and lost can be dropped and played without penalty if it is certain the ball landed in the 'abnormal ground' area. USGA Rule 25.1.c.
I'm sure the universe tested many dreamers' faith today, but it still doesnt seem fair. On the second hole of the day, a par 5, I hit a perfect drive and followed it up with a good looking approach shot that soared towards the left side of the green and landed a few yards off, into a large, safe, rough area. The course was extreamly wet at 7:20 or so when I hit the shot and this shot did what every shot all day did, the ball embedded into the ground. There were two spotters next to the green who saw the shot bury into the ground, as well as my playing partner, who was already closer to the green after having layed up his second shot and walking ahead.
We searched for that buried ball that everyone had seen come down three yards off the side of the green, 30 feet from the hole, for five minutes to no avail. Thinking that because the golf course was so wet and everyone saw the ball come down and bury into the ground in the same place, I might be able to drop in that place without penalty, I played two balls (an option that you have in golf when you are unsure what a ruling would be), one ball at the location of my buried second shot, and in the unfortunate case that a rules official would deem that ball "lost," I went back to the origin of the shot (250 yards away) to replay another with a penalty stroke incured.
The ball I played from the buried location, I chipped up to one foot from the hole. To give you the abridged version, two rules officials came and told me that although my ball was seen by two spotters who were within 15 yards of the ball when it landed and saw it embed in the ground and my playing partner, our caddies and I had seen the shot land in the same location within a few paces of the side of the green in an extreamly soft area, the ball was deemed 'lost' and I had to take the penalty.
I protested nicely at first. That cordiality gradually transformed into rage as the old rules official seemed to take delight in delivering his ruling. I proceeded to make a double bogey after the penalty, which essentially costed me three strokes. We found four other balls in the small area while searching for mine. We had to step on all of them to find them because they were so deep in the ground. The ground was not 'normal golfing ground,' which should make it 'abnormal,' therefore I should get a free drop. The rules officials on site didnt see it my way. They said it wasnt marked as 'ground under repair' prior to the event and everyone had to play it that way. Not everyone had a 7:00 am tee time though when already wet, soft ground was more so that way.
Tonight I sit here after a journey filled with an eclectic group of experiances ranging from seeing some of the most brilliant scenary in the world and winning a tournament, to losing over 20 pounds in a week and having one of the highest fever I've ever experianced. Yes, I could have putted better, avoided a few mistakes, played in the moment more effectively and even with the penalty, I could have qualified. I didnt play even close to the standard I set for myself last week. Therefore, this is not an excuse, just an extreamly unfortunate situation that makes me cringe because after everything plays itself out, I will miss the two round cut by one shot and not have the chance to return to that standard.
I will wake up, maybe tomorrow, maybe in a few days and come to the realization that nothing worth attaining is ever easy. To achieve a worthwhile dream takes overcomming mental, physical, emotional and spiritual challenge, time and time again. But tonight, that Titleist 3 nose-diving deep into the wet earth, only steps from success, will be the thought I need to put to sleep.
Thank you for all the support over the last two weeks,
Better days are on the universe's horizon, they have to be.