Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ask Linda #1413-Ball in tire rut

Hi Linda,
My ball went into a bunker, which was partially filled with water, and landed in a rut, made I think by a greenkeeper’s equipment. Definitely not man-made, animal-made, or by nature. There were several of them in parallel, as if they were made with a gigantic rake with a flat bottom. The rut was at least ball depth in very wet sand adjacent to the water, but I did have a stance.

My fellow players said that because the ball was in very wet sand next to the water and in an equipment-made rut, that I was entitled to a free drop in the bunker. I chose not to take the free drop and to play it as it lay. Dropping it may well have plugged it anyway.

What were my options, for next time!!

I very much appreciate your website and emails.

Kind regards,
Lou from Barton on Sea, Hampshire, England

Dear Lou,

I am going to assume that neither your ball nor your stance were in casual water (from which you would be entitled to free relief), and address the problem of the tire tracks.

There is no Rule that gives players free relief from tire tracks. However, a Committee may notify players that damage made by maintenance vehicles is Ground Under Repair (GUR), regardless of whether it is marked, in which case you would be entitled to relief.

If the Committee has not published such a notice or marked the area as GUR, there is still an option for the player to play two balls under Rule 3-3 (one as it lies, one taking relief – don’t forget to declare which one you prefer to count before you hit either ball). At the end of your round, before you sign your scorecard, you must explain your procedure to the Committee. (Failure to inform the Committee that you played two balls under Rule 3-3, even if the score with both balls turns out to be the same, results in disqualification.) A Committee member will inspect the tire rut and decide whether it should be considered GUR. If the decision is “yes,” and you selected the ball you dropped out of the rut to count, that is the ball that would count for your score on that hole. If it is decided that the tire rut is not GUR, your score with the ball you played as it lay in the rut would count.

This may be a good time to point out that Rule 3-3, which gives the player the option to play two balls when he is not sure about his rights or the correct procedure, is a stroke play rule. There is no option to play two balls in match play.

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