Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ask Linda #190-Relief from fenced irrigation pond


Where I play we have an irrigation pond that is fenced next to one of the fairways. Whenever we hit into this are we never know what to do. We do play it as a penalty if we go in and take a stroke and drop it within two club lengths of the spot that it crossed the fence. The problem we usually have is if the ball is against the fence do you get relief? Also, if you get behind it do you get line of sight? We know that if it was marked as out of bounds there is no relief. It is not marked as out of bounds or is it marked as a hazard either.

You would really help us if you can explain this to us.


Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

I am going to briefly describe the illustration you sent me, Lou, so my readers can picture the situation. The irrigation pond is just off the left side of the fairway. It is shaped somewhat like a bell, with the small end facing towards the teeing ground.

If I were marking this hazard, I would install yellow stakes or paint a yellow line on the ground just outside the fence at the narrow end of the bell, and install red stakes or paint a red line to indicate a lateral hazard on the side that runs along the fairway.

If the hazard were marked, when a ball crosses the margin of the hazard at the yellow-marked section at the small end of the bell, your relief options are the same as for a regular water hazard. Under penalty of one stroke, you may play a ball from the spot your original was last played, or you may drop a ball behind the hazard on the line-of-sight directly to the hole, with no limit to how far back you may drop the ball [Rule 26-1]. There is no line-of-sight relief from the fence.

For a ball that crosses the margin of the hazard at the red-marked section along the side, you have the same relief options as explained above plus the additional option to drop within two club-lengths of the fence not nearer the hole.

The fence is an obstruction. If a ball settles so close to the fence that the fence interferes with the player’s stance or area of intended swing, the player is entitled to free relief. Without going closer to the hole, he must find the nearest spot where he can swing freely, and drop the ball within one club-length of that spot [Rule 24-2b]. There is no line-of-sight relief from the fence.

Of course, your problem is that the hazard is not marked. As such, the pond is still a water hazard. Treat the small end facing towards the teeing ground as a water hazard, and the side that runs along the fairway as a lateral hazard. The fence will define the margin of the hazard. A ball on the golf-course side of the fence that leans against the fence is not in the hazard. If any part of the ball is past the fence then the ball is in the hazard. Your relief options are the same as described above in my imaginary marked hazard. The fence is still an obstruction, and your relief for a ball near the fence is still stance plus a club-length, with no relief for line-of-sight.

You should encourage the management of your golf course to mark the pond as a part-water and part-lateral-water hazard. Otherwise there is no predicting how various individuals will treat it, and scores on the hole will not be comparable.


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