Abnormal Ground Ground Condition (Animal Scraping) - Entitlement of relief

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One Planer

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Played a bounce match tonight with a friend from work.

Hit a tee shot under a conifer on our 2nd fairway.

The ball lay on a hard pan, bare lie under the conifer.

Directly where my foot right foot would be to play my shot (A punch forward towards the green) was what was an animal scraping in the form a shallow hole surrounded by the disturbed soil (mound) and some droppings.

Both my partner and I agreed it was an animal scraping, but couldn't decide on whether relief was available to me.

My perspective: The scraping interfered with my stance allowing me to play my intended shot (As described above), so I'm entitled to relief.

My partners perspective: The actual lie of the ball is not on/near nor affected by the scraping, therefore no relief. He likened it to swinging under a tree where the swing is restricted by branches. He also pointed out that I could alter my stance to play out sideways back into the fairway.

I'm pretty sure that if a scraping affects the stance of your intended shot, you are entitled to relief, but, you know when something makes you wonder?

In the end I played it as it lay and managed to play a pretty good recovery but, seeing as the forum has a shiney, new rules section, I thought I'd check :thup:
 

duncan mackie

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your interpretation was the correct one. the rules wouldn't permit relief if you weren't able to play the shot because of some other situation (for example the ball lay in a deep hole within the roots of the tree) but if you could make a shot, and the AGC interfers with your lie, stance or swing, you would be entitled to relief.
 
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Thanks Duncan.

I thought so, but didn't want to argue the toss with a group moving towards the tee from the previous hole.
 

DCB

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The crux of this question relates to the position of the ball under the conifer. Did the conifer mean that a normal stroke could not have been reasonably played ? or was there enough room to get in to play a stroke without the conifer causing interference ?
 
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The crux of this question relates to the position of the ball under the conifer. Did the conifer mean that a normal stroke could not have been reasonably played ? or was there enough room to get in to play a stroke without the conifer causing interference ?
It was on the hard pan under the conifer DCB.

I had an un-impeded back swing, and there were no issues through contact. However, if I were to make a full follow through the conifer would get an almighty clattering.

This is why I elected to play a punch and run kind of shot with a curtailed follow though.

So to answer your question. Yes, I could have played the shot I was looking to un-impeded, without intentional damage to the tree through the follow through.
 

duncan mackie

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The crux of this question relates to the position of the ball under the conifer. Did the conifer mean that a normal stroke could not have been reasonably played ? or was there enough room to get in to play a stroke without the conifer causing interference ?
the exception to the rule here requires the the shot is clearly impracticable (as a result of the conifer here) - which is quite a long way from being reasonably played, and a very long way from being interfered with.
 
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You get relief as you weren't impeded by the tree from making your shot. But remember, the committee can make a local rule to say that relief is not allowed when it's only stance that's affected
 

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There is an exception to the rule (25.1b) as follows:

Exception: A player may not take relief under this Rule if (a) interference by anything other than an abnormal ground condition makes the stroke clearly impracticable or (b) interference by an abnormal ground condition would occur only through use of a clearly unreasonable stroke or an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play.

And a Decision (25.1b/22):

Q. A ball is behind a tree so that a sideways stroke is the only reasonable stroke for the player. However, a cast made by a burrowing animal interferes with the backswing for a sideways stroke. Is the player entitled to relief under Rule 25-1b?

A. Yes, and if relief gets the player out from behind the tree, he is entitled to play towards the green.


So just because there's a nearby AGC doesn't guarantee relief, but if only practical play involves AGC, then relief from the AGC is fine - and, otherwise, unconditional.
 
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chrisd

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Similar situation on a friendly ggame on Sunday

The ball was between 2 tree roots and almost up against the tree trunk. I said that he didn't have a shot he could play, he said that he was going to use his putter and knock it out and away from the tree which is what he actually did (those broomhandles are good for something). There was no scrape or droppings and the request for relief was all part of the banter on the day but would he have got relief had there been a scrape and that he could move the ball with a putter?
 
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My perspective: The scraping interfered with my stance allowing me to play my intended shot (As described above), so I'm entitled to relief.

My partners perspective: The actual lie of the ball is not on/near nor affected by the scraping, therefore no relief as the intended stance was "abnormal".

He also pointed out that I could alter my stance to play out sideways back into the fairway.
It seems your partner was either unaware of the fact that relief in such situations is available even if there is interference only with a player's stance or, as indicated above, there is a local rule covering such situations. Might be worth checking the card. It may be that that was the situation somewhere else he has played and so that is what he is used to.

Your partner also seems to have taken the view that you could have played a shot in such a way that the scrape didn't interefere with your stance but that isn't really relevant so long as your intended shot wasn't covered by the exception mentioned by others above (i.e the intended shot wasn't impractical for some other reason, or the stroke was unreasonable or stance was abnormal).

Chris, I think If the intended shot from the tree roots with the putter wasn't covered by the exception then in my opinion he gets relief. Then of course if that incidently gets relief from the tree he can play a different shot. One of those situations where the Rules can give you a benefit but also perhaps why the Rule allows for a local rule restricting relief if interference is only with your stance, especially if the course has a large rabbit population.

I remember watching the Open on TV years ago when someone tried to get relief because his foot was on a path when he took his stance. However he was taking an extra wide stance which he said he needed to do as the ball was above his feet and that's how he played those shots. It looked like a bit of a try-on though and the official was having none of it and didn't grant relief.
 
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Just a thought on the situation described by Chris. If the intended shot is unlikely to move the the ball more than 2 club lengths would it be considered unreasonable given that a penalty drop for ball being unplayable would get a batter result?

I suppose it all depends on what is meant by "unreasonable".
 

Colin L

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I find it easiest to understand the exception firstly by recognising that its purpose is clearly to prevent a player getting relief where a) a shot clearly does not exist or b) is only possible through some absurd alteration of a normal swing/stance etc. The same exception applies to R24-2b regarding relief from immovable obstructions. In effect it prevents a player trying it on!


The key words are impracticable and unreasonable

Impracticable carries a meaning of impossibility. The first part of the exception to 25-1 b is about an impossible action, a stroke that physically cannot be made. An impracticable shot is an impossible shot. For example, a ball is lying in a rabbit scrape in the middle of a gorse bush which is so dense that it clearly prevents any stroke being made at the ball. That is impracticable - i.e. a stroke is not physically realistic so to gain relief would be absurd. A ball lies in a scrape at the foot of a tree with roots around it that prevent you getting a clubhead to it - again no relief. Shots may be difficult, interfered with, sideways, backwards, slightly impeded ..... but as long as they are possible ie not impracticable, relief should be available .




Unreasonable covers a situation where there is no physical impediment to making a stroke but where there would only be interference if the player did something entirely out of the ordinary in order to bring the interference into play. He might for example adopt a stance with his feet as far apart as his joints will allow so that one foot is in a rabbit hole or on a path but if his normal stance is an orthodox shoulder width he should not be allowed relief because the only purpose of such a ridiculous stance would be to take undeserved advantage of the relief rule. In short, while his stance may be practicable, it is unreasonable.


I think this adds up to quite a stringent test of situations where relief would not be allowed.

 

chrisd

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I find it easiest to understand the exception firstly by recognising that its purpose is clearly to prevent a player getting relief where a) a shot clearly does not exist or b) is only possible through some absurd alteration of a normal swing/stance etc. The same exception applies to R24-2b regarding relief from immovable obstructions. In effect it prevents a player trying it on!


In my example the player had no orthodox shot at all but did move the ball away from the tree and its roots with a chopping action with his broomhandle putter so as in your point (a) did he really have a shot? if he handn't considered the possibilty of using the putter .. should he ? and could it have been suggested to him to do so?
 

duncan mackie

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In my example the player had no orthodox shot at all but did move the ball away from the tree and its roots with a chopping action with his broomhandle putter so as in your point (a) did he really have a shot? if he handn't considered the possibilty of using the putter .. should he ? and could it have been suggested to him to do so?
yes he did 'have a shot' Chris, as he went on to prove.

in relation to proceding under 28 might have got him a better result as raised by MN - this is not a factor.
 

Colin L

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Chris, you would, in the situation you describe, have to decide for yourself whether a stroke is practicable. If you were sure in your mind that this chopping action with your putter was a stroke - no matter how unorthodox or awkward - which was legitimately going to move the ball out of where it was, you could take relief.

If you are in a game with a referee, he/she might ask you to stand back and demonstrate the shot you are proposing to play and then make a ruling.

Only if you decided there was not a practicable shot, or had that ruling made for you, would you have to look at an unplayable lie.
 

chrisd

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Chris, you would, in the situation you describe, have to decide for yourself whether a stroke is practicable. If you were sure in your mind that this chopping action with your putter was a stroke - no matter how unorthodox or awkward - which was legitimately going to move the ball out of where it was, you could take relief.

If you are in a game with a referee, he/she might ask you to stand back and demonstrate the shot you are proposing to play and then make a ruling.

Only if you decided there was not a practicable shot, or had that ruling made for you, would you have to look at an unplayable lie.

But you can always declare a ball unplayable, even on the green, and proceed according to the rules.

The point that I asked also was, if I said that the scrape didn't matter as he didn't have a shot that he could play and he demonstrated the route out with the putter, would he then be entitled to a free drop which would potentially allow him to play a direct shot at the green?
 

duncan mackie

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But you can always declare a ball unplayable, even on the green, and proceed according to the rules.

The point that I asked also was, if I said that the scrape didn't matter as he didn't have a shot that he could play and he demonstrated the route out with the putter, would he then be entitled to a free drop which would potentially allow him to play a direct shot at the green?
first point first - no you can't; you can't declare a ball unplayable in a water hazard, and in a bunker your options would be limited.

second, as already set out, as long as he can demonstrate a shot and the AGC interfers (as defined) with that shot, he can take relief under 25-1. That this relief may result in him now having a clear shot to the green that previously he didn't have is not relevant. (25-1b/3 confirms this and refers to it as the player's 'good fortune')
 

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first point first - no you can't; you can't declare a ball unplayable in a water hazard, and in a bunker your options would be limited.

second, as already set out, as long as he can demonstrate a shot and the AGC interfers (as defined) with that shot, he can take relief under 25-1. That this relief may result in him now having a clear shot to the green that previously he didn't have is not relevant. (25-1b/3 confirms this and refers to it as the player's 'good fortune')

Point 1 .. yes I knew that, I was really only referring to the example in question, sorry I didnt make that clear

Point 2 .. Agreed, thats how I would have advised

Cheers Duncan
 

Colin L

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What I meant about only then having to look at an unplayable lie was a matter of tactics - simply the practical point that you would want to go through the process of considering whether you were entitled to relief first because if you are so entitled, you are out of jail free. You could of course have taken one look at the ball and proceeded under Rule 28 but then you incur a penalty which, with a bit of thought you might have avoided.

It's about using the Rules to give you the best advantage and I bet the next time your ball is in amongst the roots of a tree you will be looking carefully for rabbit droppings :thup:
 

duncan mackie

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It's about using the Rules to give you the best advantage and I bet the next time your ball is in amongst the roots of a tree you will be looking carefully for rabbit droppings :thup:
I know you didn't mean this the way you wrote it Colin, but as clarification for others who may read this and beleive every word, there is no relief from rabbit droppings...
 
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