We are at Cumberwell Park again and once more this is a genuine photo and not a reconstruction. This time it is my friend Mark who has found a bit of trouble off the tee.
These big bales appear in the autumn when the penal rough on the Orange course is finally cut down and the members heave a sigh of relief.
Somehow Mark managed to get his ball to stop on top of the bale – but how should they be treated? I see 3 possibilities for free relief and it would be Mark’s choice how he wished to proceed:
- Movable Obstruction – while they are made up of natural material so you might think they are loose impediments, they have been “manufactured”
- Immovable Obstructions – if the front 5 from Bath Rugby are on hand the bales are movable, but it would be a bit of a challenge for ordinary golfers so Immovable is probably more reasonable
- Ground Under Repair – they are material piled for later removal
Options 2 and 3 are both Abnormal Course Conditions so would be treated in the same way under Rule 16. Your Reference Point is the nearest point of complete relief which is not nearer the hole and your Relief Area is within 1 club length of (and not nearer the hole than) this Reference Point.
Note that while Mark is left handed, he has turned his club over to attempt a right handed shot, and it is reasonable for him to do so in this circumstance. His nearest point of complete relief can therefore be based on this right handed swing.
Note also that the nearest point of complete relief might be behind, rather than to the side of, the bale. There is no “line of sight relief” for an Immovable Obstruction if it does not interfere with the area of your intended stance or swing.
For Option 1 you would need to get a few friends to roll the bale out of the way. Under Rule 15 your Reference Point would be the point on the ground directly below the original position of the ball (a bit of estimation needed here), and once again your Relief Area would be within 1 club length and not nearer the hole.
Note that under this Movable Obstruction option, if your ball had been on the ground and resting against the bale then it would have to be replaced on its exact spot if it moved when the bale was rolled away.