Staked and Unstaked Trees

Several new trees have been added to a few existing ones to provide a better screen between the 2nd and 4th holes at Brokenhurst. The new ones are a similar size to the existing trees and need some support from stakes until they get fully established. The existing trees, being already well rooted, aren’t staked. If you aren’t paying attention it is easy to think that all the trees are staked and so take free relief under the local rule when you aren’t allowed to do so.

Coversely – if you don’t take relief from a staked tree which has been defined as a No Play Zone you will incur a penalty.

Whether and how young trees and if they are deemed to be No Play Zones will be defined within the local rules. Make sure you read and understand these rules before you play.

8 thoughts on “Staked and Unstaked Trees

  1. Talking staked tree’s, I came by a mature bush/tree the other day while playing golf and lying against its branches was a tree stake, it’s pointed end was above ground and it was lying at a 45 degree angle and unattached. is the tree considered a staked tree ?


  2. Hi
    I took relief from a staked tree and played my shot. After I hit the ball my club clipped a leaf from the staked tree branch. My partner was certain that this incurred a penalty of one shot. Does it? Thanks


    1. Hi Tom

      Your partner is correct that there should be a penalty, but I am afraid to say that this would incur the general penalty which is 2 shots in strokeplay or loss of hole in matchplay.

      The reason is that when you take relief from an Abnormal Course Condition (such as the staked tree – the status of which should be defined in the local rules), you must take “complete relief”. That is there must be no interference from the Abnormal Course Condition with your stance, the lie of the ball, or your area of intended swing. Clipping a leaf of the tree means that you did not take this complete relief and you have therefore played from a “Wrong Place”. Rule 14.7 covers this and defines the general penalty. In theory you may have to replay from the correct place to avoid disqualification if the “wrong place” were to be considered a “serious breach” – however in this instance the correct place will be very close to the place you actually played from and so a “serous breach” is very unlikely.

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.



  3. Does the stake have to be tied to the tree ? Playing today and the stake was about one and a half foot sticking out of the ground and wasn’t tied to the tree,2 of the group say yes and the other 2 say no.


    1. I think you need to look at not only the specific wording of your local rule, but also the intent of the greenkeepers, but there is likely to be a grey area.

      My thinking:
      A rotting stake which would not be capable of supporting the tree = not staked.
      A sound stake with a tree attachment which has been broken = staked.

      A stake 18″ long seems a little short to support a tree for me, but if that is the usual length used to support similar trees, and it is a similar distance away from such a tree, then I would err on the side of it being a staked tree.

      It is important to get it right as young trees are often defined as no play zones – so if you don’t take relief when you are required to, or if you did take relief when you weren’t able to, you would get the general penalty (loss of hole or 2 strokes). This is a great example of where you should play 2 balls in stroke play and ask the committee to determine which was the correct procedure – defining which ball you would like to count before playing either ball. Also a good idea to take a picture of the tree to help the committee in their decision.

      If you were playing match play you need to agree between you whether you believe the tree to be staked or not. If you can’t agree, then you would have the choice of either playing on with your opponents decision, or doing what you believe to be correct within the rules and seeking a committee decision after the round – but if the decision was that you had not proceeded within the rules you would lose the hole.


  4. I was in a staked baby tree area (4 ft small trees. I had 3 behind me 3 in front.the trees didn’t interfere with my swing or follow through I had a couple feet of clearance, but the trees limb were small and if i hit a 7 iron the path I intended it would have chopped of a few limbs of the staked tree. I personally thought because I would endanger the staked trees it would be a no play zone? I’ve seen some rules that say because I hit the ball from the no play zone I should of incured a 2 stroke penalty. I chipped out to avoid decapitating the tree with a ball. My playing partners said I don’t get relief because my club wasn’t in danger if hitting the tree. Was hoping you could clarify


    1. You would need to read the local rule at the course to be certain, but the usual (Model) Local Rule only requires relief to be taken for interference with the lie of the ball, your stance, or area of intended swing. From your description, you would therefore not have been in such an area and so playing the ball as it lay was correct.
      When there are several young trees together some clubs may make the whole area a no play zone (especially if taking relief from one tree may put you into the no play zone around a different tree) – for this reason well worth checking those local rules. If you do play from a no p[lay zone you would incur the general penalty (2 strokes or loss of hole).


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