Scenario 1. A player’s ball ends up near the new brick walls, part of the drainage works, between the 2nd and 5th fairways. The player asks for a free drop and is told no, partly because there is no free drop from the old stone wall in front of the 6th green.

The rules tell us that these walls are obstructions (see page 39), and as they can’t be easily moved, are immovable obstructions. Now, Rule 24-2 on page 106 helps us to work out if we are entitled to relief and how to take it. In our scenario, if your stance or swing is interfered with, then you may take relief (there is no line-sight-relief of course). Mark your ball, find your nearest point of relief (NPR), mark it, and drop your ball within 1 club-length of the NPR, and it can roll up to 2 club-lengths. You’re not nearer the hole….you’re clear of the wall… on with no penalty.

Reflection: the confusion may have arisen because the stone wall on the 6th hole used to be inside a water hazard, marked with red stakes. This meant that you didn’t get relief from the wall, as Rule 24-2 makes it clear that relief from immovable instructions is not available in a water hazard. But recently that area has had its hazard status removed, meaning that you doget relief.

Scenario 2. In the previous scenario, there was no line-of-sight relief and your ball had to finish no nearer the hole – a mantra for golfers. But in two major pennant matches on Sunday, both of these came into question! The two players drove to the fence protecting the 16th tee. One got relief from the immovable instruction as it was interfering with his swing; the other was back enough to have a swing. Now, both used the Local Rule to get line-of sight relief and went to one of the drop zones! So far, so good. They dropped into these small drop zones, one rolling just out of the marked area, the other rolling forward towards the hole. They re-dropped and both ended up with ordinary lies in old divots! Unnecessarily!

The rules tell us (Rule 20-2 on page 96; Appendix I on page 152) that the dropped ball must hit the ground in the drop zone, and can roll 2 club-lengths in any direction and can finish outside the drop zone and/or closer to the hole! The rules can be our friends!

Claire Murray