Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ask Linda #1151-Staking shrubs used as 150-yard markers

Hi Linda,
My local club has small shrubs about a yard high on either side of the fairway in the rough. They are there for the purpose of marking the 150 yard mark to the centre of the green.

Some members have objected to them being there, so the match committee decided to stake each shrub. We have a local rule that says: “staked trees free drop.” Does the committee have the power under the Rules of Golf to make such a rule or apply the local rule in such a manner?

Kind Regards,
Lou from New Zealand

Dear Lou,

Shrubs on a golf course are not unusual; neither is planting shrubs to indicate a yardage distance. Courses might want to stake young shrubs (just as with saplings), but the stakes should be removed once the shrubs are established. 

Staking established shrubs to allow players who don't like them being there is absurd. Players are not entitled to free relief from natural objects. They may declare the ball unplayable. Courses should not be staking natural objects to circumvent the Rules of Golf.

Personally, I like using shrubs as 150-yard markers. Visually, they are more pleasing than barber poles (or the like) standing in the middle of the fairway, where they might misdirect a beautiful shot.

Players should play by the Rules. Committees should not facilitate breaking the Rules. Remove the stakes or remove the shrubs.

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