The Referee Gets in the Way

A true tale from a recent competition.

When refereeing a stroke play (or matchplay) competition you do your best to keep out of the players way and not to interfere unless you are called in or spot a situation where a player may need a bit of help to apply the rules correctly. It doesn’t always go to plan – as shown by this photo.

On a short Par 3 I had parked my buggy well off the back of the green on the path towards the next tee. The trouble at this hole is a pond short of the green from with a drop zone available. Unfortunately the competitor thinned the ball from this drop zone and their ball ended up on the buggy. So what do we do?

Firstly, Rule 11.1 “Ball in Motion Accidentally Hits Person or Outside Influence” applies. For a ball not played from the Putting Green there is no penalty (11.1a) and you would normally play the ball as it lies (11.1b), except that in this case the ball has come to rest on the Outside Influence/Moveable Obstruction (the buggy) so Rule 15.2a(2) applies. The correct procedure is to mark the position (Reference Point)directly underneath the spot where the ball is lying, move the buggy out of the way and then drop in the relief area which is within 1 club length of and not nearer the hole than the Reference Point.

This requires a drop onto the artificially surfaced path (an Immovable Obstruction) and so Rule 16.1 is applied for relief from this Abnormal Course Condition. Here we need to find the nearest point of complete relief which is not nearer the hole and again drop within 1 club length of, and not nearer the hole than, that new Reference Point.

What a palaver! Why can’t you just take relief from both problems at the same time? Well you if you could stand on the path to make a reasonable stroke at the ball as it lay on the buggy you could just take relief from the path initially and that would be that. However, by taking the relief from the buggy first you can move your ball by up to a club length and that may move your nearest point of relief from the path quite significantly (maybe to the opposite side of the path) leaving you with an easier stroke. Its always worth thinking through where you will find yourself dropping before you make any decision on taking relief.

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