Thursday, March 3, 2016

Ask Linda #1261-Material piled for removal


At our Four Ball Stroke Play Tournament yesterday, one of our competitors encountered a situation and questioned what occurred. Before I give her a response, I want to make sure I have interpreted the Rules correctly. Your help is appreciated.

Her ball was near a pile of dead branches that in retrospect she felt had clearly been piled by the grounds crew for removal. However, her fellow-competitor, without consultation with anyone in the group, immediately began removing the pile of branches. After the branches were removed, the fellow-competitor's partner commented that she was lucky that the ball had not moved during the process as she would have been assessed a one-stroke penalty. Her question to me is whether that was correct, since she wasn't the one removing the branches.

Before I respond to her, could you please verify my interpretation of the Rules?

If she stood there observing her fellow-competitor removing the branches the entire time without questioning the situation, I think she would have been assessed the one-stroke penalty if the ball had moved. Is that correct?

To help her in the future, would the following be correct? If she thought that the branches had clearly been piled for removal, they would be classified as ground under repair and she would be allowed to take relief without penalty. However, if her fellow-competitors disagreed or if she was unsure herself that the area was GUR of if the branches were loose impediments, she could play two balls under Rule 3-3.

Thank you for your time.
Lulu from Texas

Dear Lulu,

If the pile of dead branches had been gathered recently, and they were not dumped well to the side (e.g., deep in the woods where they would be left to rot), they would likely be deemed "material piled for removal" and the player would be entitled to free relief [Definition of "Ground Under Repair"]. That they were moved by a fellow competitor is irrelevant, since the player would be entitled to a free drop away from the branches.

There is no penalty to the fellow competitor for moving the branches. Nor is there a penalty to anyone if the ball is moved by the fellow competitor during the removal process. The fellow competitor is an outside agency, and the ball would be replaced under Rule 18-4.

If the fellow competitor had moved the branches at the request of the player (which she clearly did not – this is just a hypothetical), the player would be disqualified for an obvious attempt to circumvent the Rules. You cannot ask someone else to remove loose impediments to avoid a penalty to yourself for moving your ball in play. There would be no penalty to the fellow competitor, unless she knew the player’s intention, in which case she should also be disqualified [Decision 33-7/7].

If there is uncertainty regarding the status of the dead branches, you are correct in your suggestion that the player could choose to play two balls under Rule 3-3.

You might find some useful information in a previous column I wrote about material piled for removal:

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