Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ask Linda #970a-Follow-up to #970

Dear readers,
A reader from the UK made the following observation regarding Ask Linda #970:

Hi Linda,

The situation here seems to be the reverse of that described in Decision 26/2.

The course seems to be improperly marked and consequently, should the player not use the ‘natural boundary’ of the water hazard to determine whether the ball was in the hazard or not?

Happy holidays
Lou from the UK 

To which I responded:

Lou, the way I read this question, it was not a case of improperly placed stakes. It is not unusual to find areas of mowed grass within a hazard. Assuming the stakes are correct, the fact that your ball lies on mowed grass does not mean it is outside the hazard.

Sometimes it is hard to visualize what the reader is describing. If he had written that the stakes were insufficient or improperly placed, my answer would have been different. The workers mowing the grass are not experts on the Rules. I recommend using the cut area to decide the boundary when there are no stakes defining the margin or stakes have been moved, but not when the stakes are where they were originally placed (assuming they were placed correctly).

I must concede there are times when I have to guess at the reader's intention and answer accordingly. 

Happy holidays to you and yours,

In the event there were insufficient stakes marking the hazard, or the stakes were poorly placed, the reader’s follow-up explains very well how you should proceed:

Hi Linda,

Thank you for your prompt response.

I come across this frequently in courses with meandering streams. Strict application of straight line between course side of posts often makes part of the course in the hazard and part of the stream outside the hazard. This is often due to ‘lazy’ placing or insufficient number of posts (typically the latter). I raised this at an R&A rules school event here in UK and  the discussion concluded that where insufficient posts led to this type of situation then the ‘natural boundary’ should be followed. Insufficient in this case means that the posts do not follow the curvature of the stream or pond.

Kindest regards and Happy Holidays