January 4, 2021
Rule of the Month—Abnormal Conditions/Embedded Ball
Certain conditions are not treated as part of the challenge of playing the course, so free relief is provided as an option. This includes interference from temporary water, ground under repair, animal holes, and immovable artificial objects (such as carts paths and sprinkler heads). All of these things are collectively known as abnormal course conditions. You get free relief when the condition interferes with your lie, stance, or area of intended swing. When an abnormal course condition only interferes with your line of play, free relief is not provided.
To take free relief, you first have to find the nearest point of complete relief, which is the spot on the course nearest to where your ball lies, but not nearer the hole, where you could play your next stroke with no interference from the condition you’re taking relief from. Then drop a ball within one club-length of that point not nearer the hole.
If your ball is stuck in the ground (embedded) anywhere except in a bunker or a penalty area, you get free relief. Your ball must be found to take free relief.
Frequently Asked Questions
- I have interference from an out of bounds fence, stake or wall – what are my options?
- My ball is in a fairway in a puddle of water (temporary water) – what are my options?
- My ball is in ground under repair – what are my options?
- The bunker is filled with water – what are my options?
- What is a no play zone?
- May I take relief from a bridge, sprinkler control box or other immovable artificial object when my ball is in a penalty area?
- I have interference from a cart path, sprinkler head or other artificial object (immovable obstruction) – what are my options?
- How do I find the nearest point of complete relief and when is it used?
- My ball is stuck in the ground (embedded) – what are my options?
- I think my ball is stuck in the ground, but I can’t find it – how do I proceed?