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Snow at Accenture Match Play Championship

Posted: 2/22/2013

What do I do when I encounter snow or natural ice on the course?

While many parts of the country still have snow falling, not many would expect it to show up in Arizona as it did for the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. So what does a player do when he encounters snow or natural ice on the course?

The Rules of Golf define snow and natural ice, other than frost, as either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player (see Definition of Casual Water and Loose Impediments). When a player comes upon snow or natural ice, he should determine which option would suit him best based on the two separate and distinctive procedures under the Rules. The question the player should ask is, “Would it benefit me more to move the snow or ice, or would it benefit me more to take relief after finding my nearest point of relief?”

If a player wishes to remove the snow and natural ice, he would simply deem it as a loose impediment, and proceed under Rule 23-1 (Loose Impediments). Under this Rule, he is entitled to lift, move or remove the loose impediment(s) as he sees fit, as long as his ball does not move. This option would be beneficial to the player if he likes the lie of his ball, his line of play and distance to the hole (particularly on the putting green). However, if the ball and the snow or natural ice lie in the same bunker or water hazard, the player cannot move or remove the snow and ice without penalty.

If a player has interference as defined by Rule 25-1 (Abnormal Ground Conditions), and he wishes to take relief from the snow and natural ice, he could simply deem it as casual water and proceed under this Rule. The player would determine his nearest point of relief, lift his ball and drop it within one club-length of his nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole, as described in Rule 25-1b. This option could be beneficial to the player if he does not like the position of his ball for the next stroke. Taking relief may give the player a better angle to the hole or a better line of play.

So the next time you come across snow or natural ice on the golf course, remember that you have options. Taking relief and moving your ball may not always be beneficial, because you might have to drop in an area that is not favorable. You should survey the area, the lie and the next stroke to be made to determine which option (Rule 23-1 or Rule 25-1) would be most advantageous.

This is a great example of how the Rules of Golf are in place to help the player.

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