We have all encountered what we consider dangerous situations on the golf course. On the April 26 edition of the Ask The Pro Show, the question asked of me was what happens if I hit my ball into a bee’s nest. I did my best to answer the question in 140 characters or less, but I feel the question requires more explanation. If your ball lands in a bee’s nest or near a live rattlesnake you have some options and you do not have to play the ball as it lies.
It is unreasonable to expect a player to play from such dangerous situations and unfair to require the player to incur a penalty under Rule 26 (Water Hazard) or Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable). If the ball lay through the green, the player may, without penalty, drop a ball within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.
If the ball lay in a hazard, the player may drop a ball, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous. If possible, the ball must be dropped in the same hazard and, if not possible, in a similar nearby hazard, but in either case not nearer the hole. If it is not possible for the player to drop the ball in a hazard, he may drop it, under penalty of one stroke, outside the hazard, keeping the point where the original ball lay between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped.
If the ball lay on the putting green, the player may, without penalty, place a ball at the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous and that is not in a hazard.
If interference by anything other than the dangerous situation makes the stroke clearly impracticable or if the situation would be dangerous only through the use of a clearly unreasonable stroke or an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing, or direction of play, the player may not take relief as described above, but he is not precluded from proceeding under Rule 26 or 28 if applicable.
Relief from these situations is granted under Rule 1-4 Points Not Covered By Rules: If any point in dispute is not covered by the Rules, the decision should be made in accordance with equity. A “dangerous situation” contemplates a situation which is unrelated to conditions normally encountered on the course.
Frank Guastella, PGA Rules Official Michigan Section PGA
Staff Writer, Mike Fay Golf
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Suppose a alligator is sunning himself on a bank with his snout a few feet from a tee marker. What are a player’s options to start that hole?
So does this mean if your ball is under a tree root next to a rattlesnake, you can’t take a free drop to avoid the snake, but must take a stroke for unplayable lie?