Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ask Linda #1468-Broken branch still attached to tree

In a partner match play competition, A hits her ball into a large tree branch that was broken but still attached to the tree. It was my belief that she would have to proceed under Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable). As there was no referee, A called the Pro Shop who gave her incorrect information and told her she gets a free drop no closer to the hole. As it turns out, A and B lost the hole.

It is my understanding of the Rules we could have advised A and B that we were going to submit a claim prior to going to the next tee if the result of the hole would have been different. Then what happens? If they had won the hole, would it be reversed?

A Pro did come out on the course a couple of holes later advising the ruling they gave us was incorrect.

Lulu from Palm Desert, California

Dear Lulu,

Let’s address the broken branch issue first. If a branch is still attached to a tree, it is not a loose impediment. The player may not move it. If she cannot hit her ball, she may deem it unplayable and proceed under one of the relief options in Rule 28, all of which include a one-stroke penalty. Moving the branch would be a breach of Rule 13-2, since the player’s lie and the area of her intended swing would be improved. Moving the ball and playing it from a new location would be a breach of Rule 18-2. Either violation would result in the player (Player A) being disqualified from the hole in match play. Her partner's score (Player B) would count for the hole.

If the match is supervised by a referee (which yours was not), and the referee mistakenly authorizes the player to take free relief, the player is absolved of any penalty. In this case, if the player’s opponent (you) disagrees with the ruling, she may not request that the Committee review the matter unless the referee consents [Decisions 34-2/2 and 34-2/4].

No referee accompanied your match. You are certainly within your rights to file a claim before anyone tees off on the next hole if you disagree with the (incorrect) answer from the pro shop. The Committee would review and uphold your claim.

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