Friday, October 9, 2015

Ask Linda #1166-Fallen branch in bunker

Dear Linda,

Please help me with this. 

In a two-day competition, I had the first tee time on the second day. A heavy storm had passed during the night, trees had fallen. Neither the committee nor the greenkeeper have had time to clear up the course. A big branch from a nearby tree had fallen into a bunker. My ball came to rest under this branch, in the bunker. The ball was unplayable. Under these circumstances, am I allowed to take a free drop in the bunker, away from the branch but not nearer to the hole? By doing so referring to rule 1-4??

Thanks a lot for your blog and all the work you put into it.

Very best regards
Lou from Spain

Dear Lou,

A big branch lying in a bunker is a loose impediment, Lou. There is no getting around that fact. You know, of course, that you are not permitted to touch or move a loose impediment in a bunker.

Ordinarily, you are not entitled to free relief from a large branch that has fallen into a bunker after a storm. Neither storms nor fallen branches are unusual occurrences on a golf course. If your ball is unplayable, you may choose one of the relief options in Rule 28, all of which will add a one-stroke penalty to your score.

However, there is a possibility you may be entitled to free relief. If the Committee plans to have the branch removed during the course of the tournament, it may declare the branch to be ground under repair (“material piled for removal”). In that case, you would be entitled to a free drop in the bunker, no closer to the hole. If the Committee has not yet addressed the problem, you may play two balls under Rule 3-3 and check with the Committee before signing your scorecard regarding whether you were entitled to free relief.

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