Friday, May 27, 2011
Ask Linda #305-Dangerous animals
We live on a beautiful golf course full of nature. It’s exciting to see the alligator on hole number 6 and the mating geese on hole 4. Its fun until our ball lands too close or near a fire ant hill. In friendly golf, I am the first to urge the player to take a free drop where they are comfortable playing and leave the ball to our wild friends. But in a competition, what is the official rule on this? Believe it or not, the geese can be just as vicious as an alligator when they have a mate nesting and they protect a very wide area around the nest.
Alligators and fire ants are considered dangerous under the Rules of Golf. Rattlesnakes and bees fall under the same heading. If your ball lands near any of these creatures, you are entitled to a free drop on the nearest spot that is no closer to the hole and out of danger. You do not have to retrieve your original ball – drop another and stay safe [Decision 1-4/10].
If your ball is in a hazard, your free drop must be in the same hazard, if possible, or in a nearby similar hazard that is no closer to the hole. If dropping the ball in the same hazard is not safe, and there is no option to drop in another hazard, you will have to drop a ball outside the hazard on the line-of-sight to the hole and add a one-stroke penalty to your score.
If your ball lands in a bird’s nest, or so close to it that you would not be able to swing without damaging it, the same relief procedures as described above apply [Decision 1-4/9].
The USGA does not consider geese to be dangerous, as they are neither poisonous nor life-threatening. If you choose not to play your ball, you must declare it unplayable, take a one-stroke penalty, and use one of the relief options in Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable).
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