Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ask Linda #779-Interference from sprinkler head, revised

Dear readers,
Several readers questioned the accuracy of Ask Linda #779. I have revised the answer (after consultation with a USGA official) to explain when relief is free and when it is not. The revised section is highlighted in yellow.

Hi Linda,

Today, my friend’s golf ball came to rest on the fringe of the green. There was a sprinkler head between his ball and the green. He claimed that he could take a no-penalty relief because his putter head (in the follow through of the stroke) would go over the sprinkler head. Is my friend correct?

Thank you so much.
Lou from Toronto

Dear Lou,

A sprinkler head is an immovable obstruction. A player is entitled to free relief if an immovable obstruction interferes with the area of his intended swing. Your friend is entitled to free relief only if the putter will contact the sprinkler head on his follow-through. This could be determined by standing to the side of the sprinkler head and practicing the stroke. There is no free relief if the putter will pass over the sprinkler head with no contact.

While we’re on this topic, you might be interested to know that there is a Local Rule that can be adopted that gives players free relief from immovable obstructions close to the putting green that interfere with the line of play from the ball to the hole. Players often opt to putt from the fringe, and a sprinkler head on the fringe can interfere with normal play. Please read Local Rule #6 in Appendix I, Part B for complete details.

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