Why is there no relief from divots on the fairway?
Extracted from an interview with Peter Dawson, the Chief Executive of The R&A, and David Rickman, The R&A's Director of Rules and Equipment Standards.
David Rickman: It’s a fundamental principle that the ball is played as it lies. There are exceptions to this, but these are limited in number, and restricted to circumstances where relief is considered appropriate and necessary: immovable obstructions, casual water, ground under repair – that sort of thing. Course conditioning has improved considerably over the years to the extent that some golfers now feel they have an entitlement to a perfect lie. But I think it’s a fundamental principle that you have to accept good and bad lies as part of the game.
Peter Dawson: And just what is a divot? There’d be a big debate – it would go on and on.
DR: Exactly. The good shot that ends up in a bad lie – that frustrates people, we understand that. But the bad shot that ends up in a good lie is accepted more readily. It’s all part of golf’s challenge, and I think very good players can deal with it. I’d be astonished if there were any movement here as there’s no sympathy within the Rules of Golf Committee for changing that fundamental principle.