RULE: Immovable Obstruction 2

 Before discussing the scenarios below, it is worth to note that:

 

  • An immovable obstruction is "any obstruction that cannot be moved  without unreasonable effort or without damaging the obstruction or the course, and otherwise does not meet the definition of a movable obstruction."
  • Rule 16 'Abnormal Course Conditions' now includes immovable obstructions.

 

Ahhh! My ball from #13 tee has landed behind the netting screen protecting players on #15 green. Now I cannot play at the green as the screen is on my line of play. Can I drop out to the side so I can have a clear shot, or is that against the rules?

There seems to be still some misunderstanding about relief from immovable obstructions, particularly the protective netting behind the 15th green.

 Firstly determine if the wire netting (an immovable obstruction) does qualify as an interference. Refer to Rule 16.1 “Interference exists when…

  • your ball touches or is in or on an abnormal course condition 
  • ..... physically interferes with your AREA OF INTENDED STANCE or the AREA OF YOUR INTENDED SWING."
 Otherwise intervention on the line of play is NOT, of itself, interference under this rule.

 So if the protective fence (immovable obstruction) interferes with your stance, or your area of swing, you are entitled to relief. BUT no relief if it only interferes on your line of play, say,  towards the 13th green.

 OK - you are entitled to relief. So where can you drop your ball??

Check Definition 'Relief Area' for clarification - the reference point, size of allowed relief area and its limits. 

In this case, where the netting does cause interference, you must lift your ball and drop it without penalty within one club length of but not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief, or reference point.

What is the nearest point of relief? It is a spot on the course nearest to where your ball lays that avoids interference from the obstruction—the nearest point on the course where you can play your ball without the netting interfering with your stance or your area of swing. Once that spot is determined, you can drop anywhere within one club length as defined by the relief area, and your ball is back in play.

If the netting is still on your line of play, you are NOT entitled to further relief!! 

In this diagram above, the netting screen lies between three balls A, B & C and the green.

Ball A and B both have the screen cause interference with your stance and/or your swing. So you are entitled under the Rules to free relief. The nearest point of relief for A is point x, and for B it is y. Now you must drop a ball within ONE club length of this nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole. So x gets you relief for swing and/or stance from the fence, but no relief from line of play. Stiff!

Drop one club length from y to the right is within the rule (small diagram), and you get relief swing, stance & line of play - lucky hey? Check out Diagram 16.1b for another good diagram.

 Ball C obtains no free relief as the fence does not interfere with your swing or stance, even though it does interfere with your line of play. You may invoke ‘unplayable ball’ and take some relief at a cost of one stroke! (Check Rule 19 for these unplayable ball options)

 

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