Roads and Paths
The Definition of “Obstruction” states in part that “An obstruction is anything artificial ... except: ... Any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course.” Accordingly, a Committee may declare an artificially-surfaced road or path to be an integral part of the course. This generally would only be recommended in a situation where providing free relief from the road or path would spoil an intrinsic feature of the hole. Perhaps the best example of this is the 17th hole at The Old Course, St Andrews, known as the Road Hole, where the road behind the green is an integral part of the course.
Should the Committee wish to treat all artificially-surfaced roads or paths as integral parts of the course, it must make a Local Rule to that effect, for example:
“Roads and Paths All roads and paths are integral parts of the course. The ball must be played as it lies or deemed unplayable (Rule 28).”
The Committee may declare an artificially-surfaced road or path to be an integral part of the course, as occurs at the 17th hole at The Old Course, St Andrews.
It is important to note that artificial sides or edgings to roads and are not covered by the above Local Rule and would maintain their status as immovable obstructions. Specific reference would have to be made to the edgings in the Local Rule in order to make them integral parts of the course. It is recommended that drainage channels adjacent to cart paths be deemed by Local Rule to be part of the immovable obstruction.
As outlined above, by Definition, artificially-surfaced roads and paths are immovable obstructions and relief from interference by them is available under Rule 24-2b. It may be that the player’s nearest point of relief from such an obstruction is in trees, bushes, on a steep slope etc. thereby providing no practical relief. However, it is not permissible for a Committee to make a Local Rule providing relief in all cases on a designated side of the road or path as such a situation is not considered to be “abnormal”. In addition, it would not be appropriate to establish dropping zones to alleviate the problem (see Decision 33-8/19).