RULE: Bridge Over Troubled Water

Your ball comes to rest on the bridge over the hazard. Your mates think it hilarious - but what do you do. Do you play it as it lies, take a penalty or get a free drop??

!My ball has come to rest on this log retainer in the hazard (photo 1) or stopped on the bridge across #17 (photo 2).  Yes, it might not happen much, but I have seen it often enough!  And I have heard just as many different interpretations of rulings given by members – but only one is correct. So what is the right one?

The simple ruling is – no relief without penalty and play as it lies; or invoke Rule 26 and take the penalty.

How did we reach that conclusion? Read on!


Firstly the ‘book’ tells us that both the bridge and the log wall are obstructions.

“An obstruction is a movable obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. Otherwise it is an immovable obstruction.”

How did we reach the ruling above then?

Looking under Rule 24 Obstructions (Relief situations and Procedures) clarifies the situation
further - more specifically Rule 24-2 says (in part):

“Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, or when the obstruction interferes with the player’s stance or the area of intended swing….”

Now this part 24-2 (b) Relief makes the ruling clearer:

“Except when the ball is in a water hazard or a lateral water hazard, a player may take relief from the interference by an immovable obstruction.”

So you can get relief from the immovable obstruction EXCEPT IN A HAZARD!

BUT, you say, isn’t the bridge above the hazard? It may well be, but definitions advises us that the margins of a water hazard extend vertically upwards and downwards. So, your ball is still in the hazard!  ”A ball is in a water hazard when it lies in, or any part of it touches the water hazard.” (Definition
of Water Hazard)

O.K., so my ball is in the water hazard, but on the obstruction.
Can I ground my club on the timber if I intend to play the ball? Well, now this is when we say the Rules are complicated! Rule 13 now becomes effective!

Simple answer is YES!

Rule 13-4 tells us you “cannot touch the ground in the hazard or water in the hazard with your hand or club or any loose impediments lying in or touching the hazard.”  The bridge is neither ground nor water!

A note to Rule 13 further says: “ At any time, including at address or in the backward movement for the stroke, the player may touch, with a club or otherwise, any obstruction or any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing.”

So there you are! The rules can be complicated. It is probably easier if you just stay aout of hazards and away from the obstructions!!!!!

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