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Rules of Golf Update - WEEK 3 – RELIEF Situations

Topic: General


This week we will look at different relief situations.

Free Relief

· Abnormal course conditions and dangerous animal situations: Free relief is still available for these situations as before. Dangerous animal situations are currently covered in the ‘Decisions’. Abnormal course conditions are ground under repair, immoveable obstructions, temporary water or animal holes. Animal holes are holes dug by animals (now including dogs) that are not also defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).

· Relief for embedded ball in the general area: You may take relief if your ball is embedded anywhere (except in sand in the rough) in the general area (which is the new term for ‘through the green’), except where a local rule restricts relief to the fairway or similar areas (this reverses the default position in the current rules). When taking relief for an embedded ball, the ball must be dropped within a 1 club length relief area, rather than on a spot.

· Wrong putting green: Free relief must be taken from any putting green on the course other than the green of the hole being played. Complete relief must be taken for your lie, stance and area of intended swing (previously relief for the ball only was provided).

Penalty Relief

· Ball Unplayable: You may take ball unplayable relief from anywhere except a penalty area. The 2019 rules now allow a player to take relief outside a bunker (This will be covered under a separate section on bunkers).

· Back on the line relief: Note the ball is now to be dropped within a 1 club length relief area when taking ‘back on the line’ relief. It’s strongly recommended that you mark the reference point when taking this relief option. If no point is marked, the reference point is treated as being the point on the line that is the same distance from the hole as where the dropped ball first touched the ground. If the ball then rolls forward it would be outside the relief area and need to be re-dropped.

· Stroke and distance relief: Stroke and distance relief may be taken at any time.

As before, stroke and distance relief must be taken for a ball out of bounds or lost. The ball is now to be dropped within a 1 club length relief area from the spot where it was previously played, when relief is taken in the general area, penalty area and bunkers.

· Lost ball time for search: A ball is lost if not found in 3 minutes (rather than the current 5 minutes) after you begin searching for it. During this 3 minutes you may return to the tee to play a provisional ball. The current rules require you to play a provisional ball before leaving the tee.

· New local rule for ball out of bounds or lost: To speed up play the Committee may adopt a local rule allowing the player to drop a ball in the vicinity of where their ball was lost or went out of bounds for a 2 stroke penalty.

Next week we will revisit the penalty area and look at other changes that affect this area.