RULE: Bridge Over Troubled Water

Your ball comes to rest on abridge over or in a penalty area. 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??

In the photo at right,your ball has come to rest on this log in the penalty area (photo 1) or stopped on the bridge across #17 penalty area (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. So you have the choice of one of these two options available:  play as it lies; or invoke Rule 17 and take the one stroke penalty.

How did we reach that conclusion? Read on!


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

“An obstruction: any artificial object except integral objects and boundary objects. "  Rule 16 "Abnormal Course Conditions' includes "obstructions".

How did we reach the ruling above then?

Looking under Rule 16 (Relief from Abnormal Course Conditions ) clarifies the situation
further - more specifically Rule 16-1a When Relief is Allowed says (in part):

Interference exists when any of these is true:

 

  • Your ball touches or is in or on an abnormal course condition (this includes 'obstructions') 
  • An abnormal course condition physically interferes with your area of intended stance or area of intended swing"

 

Now this next part of 16-1a)  makes the ruling clearer:

"There is no free relief from an abnormal course condition when the abnormal course condition is out of bounds or your ball is in a penalty area.

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

BUT, you say, isn’t the bridge above the penalty area? It may well be, but definitions advises us that the margins of a penalty area (water hazard) extend vertically upwards and downwards. So, your ball is still in the penalty area!  ”A ball is in a penalty area when it lies in, or any part of it touches the penalty area.” (See Rule 17.1a)

O.K., so my ball is in the penalty area, but on the obstruction.

Can I ground my club on the timber if I intend to play the ball? 

Simple answer is YES! Under Rule 17.1b states that you may ground your club in a penalty area.

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

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