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8E
Special or Required Relief Procedures
8E
Special or Required Relief Procedures
E-1

Dropping Zones

Purpose. A dropping zone is a special form of relief area that may be adopted by the Committee. When taking relief in a dropping zone, the player must drop the ball in and have it come to rest in the dropping zone. Dropping zones should be considered when there may be practical problems in requiring players to use the normal relief options under a Rule, such as: The following points apply when dropping a ball in a dropping zone:
  • The player does not have to stand in the dropping zone when dropping the ball.
  • When a player is using a dropping zone, the relief area is defined by that dropping zone and the ball must be dropped in and come to rest in the dropping zone (see Rule 14.3).
  • If the dropping zone is defined by a line on the ground, the line is inside the dropping zone.
See Section 2I for additional information regarding dropping zones. Model Local Rule E-1.1 This Model Local Rule covers the example of a dropping zone used as an extra option for taking relief from a penalty area, but it may be adapted for any other Rule mentioned above. "If a ball is in the penalty area [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found came to rest in the penalty area, the player has these relief options, each for one penalty stroke:
  • Take relief under Rule 17.1, or
  • As an extra option, drop the original ball or another ball in the dropping zone [describe how the dropping zone is defined and where located]. The dropping zone is a relief area under Rule 14.3.
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."  Model Local Rule E-1.2 This Model Local Rule covers the example of a dropping zone used as an extra option for taking relief from an abnormal course condition such as a large area of ground under repair, but it may be adapted for any other Rule mentioned above. "If a ball is in the ground under repair [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found came to rest in the ground under repair, the player may:
  • Take free relief under Rule 16.1, or
  • As an extra option, take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in the dropping zone [describe how the dropping zone is defined and where located] . The dropping zone is a relief area under Rule 14.3.
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a." Model Local Rule E-1.3 This Model Local Rule covers the example of a dropping zone used as the only relief option available (other than stroke and distance) for taking relief from a penalty area, but it may be adapted for any other Rule mentioned above. "If a ball is in the penalty area [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found came to rest in the penalty area, the player may:
  • Take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 17.1d(1), adding one penalty stroke, or
  • Drop the original ball or another ball in the dropping zone [describe how the dropping zone is defined and where located], adding one penalty stroke. The dropping zone is a relief area under Rule 14.3.
  • The player may not take relief under Rules 17.1d(2) or 17.1d(3).
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."
E-2

Cleaning Ball

Purpose. When conditions such as wet ground conditions throughout parts of the course may cause mud to stick to the ball, the Committee can choose to allow the player to lift, clean and replace the ball in the general area. Such relief should be limited to those portions of the course where needed. While the Local Rule for Preferred Lies (Model Local Rule E-3) is designed for use only in areas cut to fairway height or less in the general area, this Local Rule can be used throughout the general area or restricted to specific areas. The Committee could choose to use both Local Rules permitting preferred lies in the fairways and cleaning the ball elsewhere in the general area. It is not advisable to implement this Local Rule once play has begun for a stroke-play round. Doing so would allow players who had more holes to play the advantage of using it for a longer period of time. The Local Rule could be implemented once a match has begun between the play of two holes as opponents have an equal benefit. For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes (for example, if it must be limited to fairway only), consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction. Model Local Rule E-2 "When a player's ball lies in [identify area, such as the general area, at the 6th hole, in the general area cut to fairway height or less, etc.], the ball may be lifted cleaned and replaced without penalty. The player must mark the spot before lifting the ball (see Rule 14.1) and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (see Rule 14.2). Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a. "
E-3

Preferred Lies

Purpose. When occasional local abnormal conditions might interfere with fair play, the affected parts of the course can be defined as ground under repair. But adverse conditions such as heavy snows, spring thaws, prolonged rains or extreme heat can sometimes damage the course or prevent use of heavy mowing equipment. When such conditions are widespread on the course, the Committee can choose to adopt a Local Rule for "preferred lies" (also known as "winter rules") to allow fair play or help protect the fairway. Such a Local Rule should be withdrawn as soon as conditions allow. The use of this Local Rule outside the fairway in the general area is not recommended as it may result in a player receiving free relief from areas where a ball might otherwise be unplayable (such as in areas of bushes or trees). It is not authorised to implement this Local Rule once play has begun for a stroke-play round. Doing so would allow players who have more holes to play the advantage of using it for a longer period of time. The Local Rule could be implemented once a match has begun between the play of two holes as opponents have an equal benefit. For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes (including the size of the relief area and if it may only be used in the fairway), consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction. Model Local Rule E-3 "When a player's ball lies in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less [or identify a specific area such as 'on the fairway of the 6th hole'], the player may take free relief once by placing the original ball or another ball in and playing it from this relief area:
  • Reference Point: Spot of the original ball.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: [Specify size of relief area, such as one club-length, one scorecard length or 6 inches] from the reference point, but with these limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area:
    • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
    • Must be in the general area.
In proceeding under this Local Rule, the player must choose a spot to place the ball and use the procedures for replacing a ball under Rules 14.2b(2) and 14.2e. Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty  Under Rule 14.7a."
E-4

Relief from Aeration Holes

Purpose. Aeration holes do not fall within the meaning of holes made by the maintenance staff. Therefore players are not permitted to repair them on the putting green (see Rule 13.1c) or take free relief from them in the general area, but such holes can interfere with the proper playing of the game. If the Committee declares aeration holes to be ground under repair, a player may find it impractical or impossible to obtain complete relief. Therefore, when recent aeration holes may significantly interfere with the lie of the ball or area of intended swing, the Committee can choose to give relief as it would for ground under repair but exclude relief for interference to the player's stance. This Local Rule should be withdrawn when the aeration holes have healed enough to avoid significant interference. Model Local Rule E-4 "If a player's ball lies in or touches an aeration hole: (a) Ball in General Area. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b. If the ball comes to rest in another aeration hole the player may take relief again under this Local Rule. (b) Ball on Putting Green. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1d. But interference does not exist if the aeration hole only interferes with the player's stance or, on the putting green, on the player's line of play. Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."
E-5

Alternative to Stroke and Distance for Lost Ball or Ball Out of Bounds

Purpose. When a provisional ball has not been played, significant issues with pace of play can result for a player needing to take stroke-and-distance relief for a ball that is out of bounds or cannot be found. The purpose of this Local Rule is to allow a Committee to provide an extra relief option that allows a player to play on without returning to the location of the previous stroke. The Local Rule is appropriate for general play where golfers are playing casual rounds or playing their own competitions. The Local Rule is not appropriate for competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional competitions and elite amateur competitions). For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes, consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction. Where a Committee has introduced such a Local Rule for general play, and removes it for competitions, it should ensure that all players are aware of this before play begins. A Committee may introduce such a Local Rule for all play on the course or only for one or two specific holes where it may be especially useful (for example, where players are unable to see the landing area and therefore may not know whether or not to play a provisional ball). This option allows the player to drop in a large area between the point where the ball is estimated to have come to rest or gone out of bounds and the edge of the fairway of the hole being played that is not nearer the hole. The player gets two penalty strokes when using this relief option. This means that the relief is comparable to what could have been achieved if the player had taken stroke-and-distance relief. This Local Rule cannot be used for an unplayable ball, or for a ball that is known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area. If a provisional ball is played and neither the original ball nor the provisional ball can be found, then the Local Rule may be applied for the provisional ball that cannot be found. Model Local Rule E-5 "When a player's ball has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds, the player may proceed as follows rather than proceeding under stroke and distance. For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3): Two Estimated Reference Points: (a). Ball Reference Point: The point where the original ball is estimated to have:
  • Come to rest on the course, or
  • Last crossed the edge of the course boundary to go out of bounds.
(b). Fairway Reference Point: The point of fairway of the hole being played that is nearest to the ball reference point, but is not nearer the hole than the ball reference point. For purposes of this Local Rule, "fairway" means any area of grass in the general area that is cut to fairway height or less. If a ball is estimated to be lost on the course or last crossed the edge of the course boundary short of the fairway, the fairway reference point may be a grass path or a teeing ground for the hole being played cut to fairway height or less. Size of Relief Area Based on Reference Points :Anywhere between
  • A line from the hole through the ball reference point (and within two club-lengths to the outside of that line), and
  • A line from the hole through the fairway reference point (and within two club-lengths to the fairway side of that line).
But with these limits: Limits on Location of Relief Area:
  • Must be in the general area, and
  • Must not be nearer the hole than the ball reference point.
Once the player puts a ball in play under this Local Rule:
  • The original ball that was lost or out of bounds is no longer in play and must not be played.
  • This is true even if the ball is found on the course before the end of the three-minute search time (see Rule 6.3b).
But the player may not use this option to take relief for the original ball when:
  • That ball is known or virtually certain to have come to rest in a penalty area, or
  • The player has played another ball provisionally under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 18.3).
A player may use this option to take relief for a provisional ball that has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds. Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."
E-6

Line of Play Relief for Protective Fence

Purpose. A fence (or similar protective screen) is sometimes used to protect players on one hole from shots played at another hole. If such a fence is close to the playing area for another hole, the Committee can choose to use dropping zones to give a player an extra relief option without penalty when he or she is playing that other hole and the fence is on the line of play. The player should be entitled to relief only when the ball is nearer the hole than the dropping zone, so that a player whose ball is well away from the fence is not allowed to move forward to the dropping zone. The Committee should take this into consideration when positioning the dropping zone to ensure that this relief will be available only for situations where they believe such free relief is justified. Model Local Rule E-6 "During play of the [specify hole number], if the protective fence on the [specify hole number] is on a player's line of play:
  • The player may take free relief by dropping a ball in and playing it from the dropping zone (describe location).
  • But this relief is allowed only if the ball is in play nearer the hole than where the dropping zone is located (see Rule 14.3).
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."
E-7

Relief from Electric Boundary Fence

Purpose. Where an electric fence is used as a boundary fence, a Local Rule providing free relief for a ball lying within a certain distance (for example, two club-lengths) of the boundary fence is permitted. In these circumstances, to ensure the safety of the player, the player can measure the two club-lengths from the fence and has an additional club-length in which to drop the ball no nearer the hole than where the ball originally lay. It is not otherwise authorized to introduce a Local Rule providing free relief from a boundary fence even if the Committee's reasons for doing so are to protect the fence from any damage. Model Local Rule E-7 "If a player's ball lies on the course and within [specify distance, such as two club-lengths] of the electric boundary fence on hole[s] [specify location(s)], he or she may, without penalty, take relief under Rule 16.1, using as the reference point the point that is [specify distance, such as two club-lengths] from the fence and an equal distance from the hole. Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."
E-8

Defining No Play Zones

Purpose. There may be some parts of the course where the Committee wishes to prohibit play, in which case each area must be treated as either within an abnormal course condition or a penalty area. The Committee can use no play zones for any reason, such as:
  • To protect wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally-sensitive areas.
  • To prevent damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas.
  • To protect players from danger.
  • To preserve sites of historical or cultural interest.
See Sections 2G and 5B(5) for more information on No Play Zones and how to mark them distinctively. Model Local Rule E-8.1 "The area defined by [specify how the area is marked, for example, with green stakes] [specify where it is located, e.g. on the right of the fairway on hole 8] is a no play zone that is to be treated as an abnormal course condition. Free relief must be taken from interference by the no play zone under Rule 16.1f." Model Local Rule E-8.2 "The area within the [red] [yellow] penalty area defined by [specify how the area is marked, for example, with green stakes] [specify where it is located, for example, on the right of the fairway on hole 8] is a no play zone. When a ball is in the no play zone within the penalty area, the ball must not be played as it lies and relief must be taken from interference by the no play zone under Rule 17.1e."
E-9

Defining an Area of Out of Bounds as a No Play Zone

Purpose. Although a player may not play a ball from out of bounds, there may be areas that are out of bounds that the Committee may wish to designate as no play zones, for example, to stop players from damaging anything growing in that area when it interferes with the play of a ball on the course. In this case, a player must take free relief if the player's ball is on the course but his or her area of intended stance is in the no play zone which is out of bounds or if his or her swing touches something that is in the no play zone. Model Local Rule E-9 "The [identify the area out of bounds that is to be treated as a no play zone] is a no play zone and the player must take free relief under Rule 16.1f(2) if his or her ball is on the course and anything in the no play zone interferes with the player's area of intended stance or swing. The player must not play the ball as it lies. Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."
E-10

Protection of Young Trees

Purpose. To prevent damage to young trees when a player makes a stroke, a Committee can choose to designate them as a no play zone so that:
  • If a player has any type of interference as defined in Rule 16.1 from such a tree designated as a no play zone, he or she must take relief under Rule 16.1f.
  • If the player's ball lies in a penalty area, he or she must either take free relief under the Local Rule within the penalty area or proceed with penalty under Rule 17.1.
Such trees should be identified by stakes, ribbons or in some other clear way. When the tree has matured and no longer needs this protection, the Committee should withdraw the Local Rule and/or remove the identifying stake or ribbon from the tree. Model Local Rule E-10 "The young trees identified by [identify markings] are no play zones:
  • If a player's ball lies anywhere on the course other than in a penalty area and it lies on or touches such a tree or such a tree interferes with the player's stance or area of intended swing, the player must take relief under Rule 16.1f.
  • If the ball lies in a penalty area, and interference to the player's stance or area of intended swing exists from such a tree, the player must take relief either with penalty under Rule 17.1e or with free relief under Rule 17.1e(2).
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."
E-11

Ball Deflected by Power Line

Purpose. If a permanent overhead power line may interfere with the reasonable play of a hole, a Committee can require that if a ball hits the power line (and towers, support wires or poles supporting the power line), the stroke does not count and the player must play the stroke again. This Local Rule should not generally be used for power lines that do not interfere with play of a hole or are out of bounds. A Local Rule that gives a player the option to replay the stroke for a ball that hits a power line should not be implemented. Model Local Rule E-11 "If it is known or virtually certain that a player's ball hit a power line [or tower or a wire or pole supporting a power line] during the play of [specify hole number], the stroke does not count. The player must play a ball without penalty from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6 for what to do). Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."
E-12

Clarification: Ball Played from Outside Relief Area When Taking Back-On-the-Line Relief

Clarification added - 4/2019 Purpose. A Committee may choose to introduce a Local Rule to provide for no penalty in specific circumstances when a ball is played from outside the relief area after taking back-on-the-line relief. Under this Local Rule, a player will not be penalized for playing from a wrong place so long as the ball is dropped in the relief area and comes to rest within one club-length of where it first touched the ground. For example, a ball rolls slightly forward of the reference point after having been dropped in the right way and in the relief area, but is still within one club-length of where it first touched the ground when dropped. In such cases, the player can either proceed under Rule 14.3c(2) or the player can play the ball from where it came to rest. This Local Rule is for use only in relation to the Back-On-the-Line relief procedure. Model Local Rule E-12 "When taking Back-On-the-Line relief, there is no additional penalty if a player plays a ball that was dropped in the relief area required by the relevant Rule (Rule 16.1c(2), 17.1d(2), 19.2b or 19.3b) but came to rest outside the relief area, so long as the ball, when played, is within one club-length of where it first touched the ground when dropped. This exemption from penalty applies even if the ball is played from nearer the hole than the reference point (but not if played from nearer the hole than the spot of the original ball or the estimated point where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area). This Local Rule does not change the procedure for taking Back-On-the-Line relief under a relevant Rule. This means that the reference point and relief area are not changed by this Local Rule and that Rule 14.3c(2) can be applied by a player who drops a ball in the right way and it comes to rest outside the relief area, whether this occurs on the first or second drop."    
EXPLORE MORE
Section 1The Role of the Committee
The Rules of Golf define the Committee as the person or group in charge of a competition or the course. The Committee is essential to the proper playing of the game. Committees have the responsibility of running the course on a day-to-day basis or for a specific competition and they should always act in ways that support the Rules of Golf. This part of the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf provides guidance to Committees in fulfilling this role. While many of the duties of a Committee are specific to running organized competitions, an important part of the Committee's duties relates to its responsibility for the course during general or every day play.
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