Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Ask Linda #1173-Player takes relief from immovable obstruction in water hazard
I've been trying to work out the ruling for a man-made object that is in a hazard, but I am struggling to get a definitive answer.
We had some boardwalks with chains delivered and they were put at the side of the course, half in and half out of a lateral hazard bordering the fairway.
A player hit his ball into the hazard and it finished behind these boardwalks. His swing was fully impeded. Although they are technically movable, after reading the rules my interpretation is that they are classified as immovable because they are so heavy that the time involved in moving is too long and holds up play too much. They can't be moved easily.
My question is can the player take free relief from the man-made immovable obstruction in the hazard? He took free relief but told us about it straight after his round. If he wasn't entitled to relief do we add a one shot penalty to his round? He took NPR at the time.
Lou from New Zealand
Your decision to deem the boardwalks “immovable obstructions” is correct. Any obstruction that cannot be moved without unreasonable effort and without unduly delaying play is immovable [Definition of “Obstructions”].
A player is not entitled to free relief from an immovable obstruction when his ball lies in a water hazard [Rule 24-2b]. Even if the Committee had labeled the boardwalks “ground under repair” (since it seems clear that they constituted “material piled for removal”), the player would still get no free relief [Rule 25-1b]. When a ball lies in a hazard, and the player needs relief, he is limited to the relief options for a ball in a water hazard Rule [Rule 26-1]. When the player dropped his ball at the nearest point of relief in the hazard and played it, he played from a wrong place. The penalty is two strokes (loss of hole in match play). In addition, he incurs the one-stroke penalty for taking relief from a water hazard [Rule 26-1], even though the relief procedure was incorrect. The player is assessed a total of three penalty strokes [please read Decision 20-7/2].
What the player should have done (assuming he was not certain whether he was entitled to free relief) was invoke Rule 3-3 and play two balls – one dropped at the NPR in the hazard, and one dropped under Rule 26-1. The Committee would rule that the ball played under the water hazard Rule would be the one that counts, and he would only receive one penalty stroke.
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