Point of entry or where the ball comes to rest in a cement drainage channel

Josealvrz

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There is a long, narrow cement drain in the middle of the uphill fairway. When a ball gets in the drain on the top part, it may roll all the way down the cement drain 80 or 90 yards. We’ve been playing taking free relief where the ball comes to rest. We’re discussing a local rule to take relief at the point of entry. What’s the rule without the local rule?
 

Colin L

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I take it that this is an open drain, in which case it is a Penalty Area by Definition. As such, the reference point for taking relief (under penalty) is the point at which it last crossed the edge of the Penalty Area. Where the ball comes to rest in the Penalty Area has nothing to do with it other than that is where you play your ball from should you choose not to take relief.
 

Josealvrz

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Colin, thanks for your reply. This cement channel is about one foot wide, a few inches deep, and 80 yds long. I did not expect that this drain by definition is a Penalty Area. Where in the rules can I see this definition? We play it as an immovable obstruction and take free relief.
 

Colin L

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Colin, thanks for your reply. This cement channel is about one foot wide, a few inches deep, and 80 yds long. I did not expect that this drain by definition is a Penalty Area. Where in the rules can I see this definition? We play it as an immovable obstruction and take free relief.
You"ll find the Definitions here https://www.randa.org/rog/definitions. They're in alphabetical order. The Definition of a Penalty area includes this (my emphasis):

Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water)....
 

Josealvrz

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Thank you Colin. It’s there in black and white. I’m in Southern California (USA), and I played many courses where this type of draining channels are played as immovable obstructions, but the definition seems clear.
 
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I've played many courses in tropical environments where concrete drainage ditches are indeed classed as red Penalty Areas (lateral hazards in old money), so agree with the above.
 

rulie

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An addition to Colin's response - in the Model Local Rule section of the Official Guide, it says:

F-20 Concrete Drainage Channels​

Purpose. Narrow concrete drainage channels are sometimes found on courses where flooding is common. This can create issues for play because:
  • These channels are penalty areas as defined in the Rules.
  • They often run next to cart paths and are more like immovable obstructions than penalty areas​
The Committee can choose to treat these drainage channels as immovable obstructions in the general area rather than as penalty areas.

Be sure to read the Local Rules for the course that you are playing!
 

Steven Rules

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The definition does go on to say:

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

@Josealvrz - if practise at your club is to treat it as an immovable obstruction, maybe your Committee has done just that and defined it as general area/immovable obstruction.
 
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Josealvrz

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Colin,
Maybe the R&A Rules differ on this definition from the USGA. See the USGA rules on a definition of obstruction


Examples of obstructions:
• Artificially surfaced roads and paths, including their artificial borders.
• Buildings and rain shelters.
• Sprinkler heads, drains and irrigation or control boxes.
 

Josealvrz

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Colin,
Maybe the R&A Rules differ on this definition from the USGA. See the USGA rules on a definition of obstruction


Examples of obstructions:
• Artificially surfaced roads and paths, including their artificial borders.
• Buildings and rain shelters.
• Sprinkler heads, drains and irrigation or control boxes.
The definition does go on to say:

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

@Josealvarz - if practise at your club is to treat it as an immovable obstruction, maybe your Committee has done just that and defined it as general area/immovable obstruction.
Thanks to all for the good reponles. Much appreciated. The committee is discussing our scenario, and the local rule will declaring it as a general area and free relief. The cement drain is in the middle of the uphill fairway, so the ball entering the top area may roll down 80 yards. Once it’s established that there is free relief, would it be at the entry point or where the ball comes to rest, 80 yds down from where it entered the ditch
 

Colin L

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Colin,
Maybe the R&A Rules differ on this definition from the USGA. See the USGA rules on a definition of obstruction


Examples of obstructions:
• Artificially surfaced roads and paths, including their artificial borders.
• Buildings and rain shelters.
• Sprinkler heads, drains and irrigation or control boxes.
The Rules are identical.

The Definition of a penalty area specifies open drains. Drains covered by or enclosed in artificial material are obstructions and include, for example, a vertical drain covered by a grid, a ditch filled with gravel or a pipe. Yours is open and so is a penalty area. But now you have the information you need for a local rule to change that status.

Relief from an immovable obstruction is covered in Rule 16 where you will see that the reference point for relief is the nearest point of complete relief to where the ball lies. I'm afraid that means you lose those 80 yards if the ball rolls down.
 

salfordlad

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The Rules can only take you so far in dealing with this dilemma. Point of entry relief only applies to penalty relief from a penalty area or relief for a ball lost in abnormal course condition (incl GUR) or obstruction. Non-rules solutions can also ameliorate the issue - placing things in the drain that block or impede the moving ball - but these come at a resource cost in terms of build and maintenance and may not be practical.
 

Josealvrz

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Once again, thank you all. I have the info I need. FYI, here’s a picture of the cement drain in the fairway. If there are additional comments, they’re welcomed.
 

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backwoodsman

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As per the above...

By definition, its a penalty area, but the club could declare it an immovable obstruction if it so chooses. And as folk say, the reference point for relief is different depending on which it is - so you definitely need to check with each course where it occurs.

Given that you say the ball could roll 70-80 yards if it goes in, then I suspect the club's/course's inclination may well be to declare them as immovable ostructions. On an up-hill hole the player will obviously lose the distance but from a practical point of view, using the point where the ball lies would be much the easier to use.
 
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