Rule 16 - Relief from Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions), Dangerous Animal Condition, Embedded Ball

16.1 Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions)

16.1a(3)/1 – Obstruction Interfering with Abnormal Stroke May Not Preclude Player From Taking Relief

In some situations a player may have to adopt an abnormal swing, stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. or direction of play in playing his or her ball to accommodate a given situation. If the abnormal strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) is not clearly unreasonable given the circumstances, the player is permitted to take free relief under Rule 16.1.

For example, in the general areaGeneral Area: The area of the course that covers all of the courseexcept for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole the player is playing.(...Continued), a right-handed player’s ball is so close to a boundary objectBoundary Object: Artificial objects defining or showing out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings, from which free relief is not allowed.(...Continued) on the left side of a hole that he or she must make a left-handed swing to play towards the hole. In making the left-handed swing, the player’s stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. is interfered with by an immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:(...Continued).

The player is allowed relief from the immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:(...Continued) since use of a left-handed swing is not clearly unreasonable in the circumstances.

After the relief procedure for the left-handed swing is complete, the player may then use a normal right-handed swing for the next strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued). If the obstructionObstruction: Any artificial object except for integral objects and boundary objects.(...Continued) interferes with the right-handed swing, the player may take relief for the right-handed swing under Rule 16.1b or play the ball as it lies.

16.1a(3)/2 – Player May Not Use Clearly Unreasonable Stroke to Get Relief from Condition

A player may not use a clearly unreasonable strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) to get relief from an abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions:. If the player’s strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) is clearly unreasonable given the circumstances, relief under Rule 16.1 is not allowed, and he or she must either play the ball as it lies or take unplayable ball relief.

For example, in the general areaGeneral Area: The area of the course that covers all of the courseexcept for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole the player is playing.(...Continued), a right-handed player’s ball is in a bad lie. A nearby immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:(...Continued) would not interfere with the player’s normal right-handed strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued), but would interfere with a left-handed strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued). The player states that he or she is going to make the next strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) left-handed and believes that, since the obstructionObstruction: Any artificial object except for integral objects and boundary objects.(...Continued) would interfere with such a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued), Rule 16.1b allows relief.

However, since the only reason for the player to use a left-handed strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) is to escape a bad lie by taking relief, use of the left-handed strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) is clearly unreasonable and the player is not allowed to take relief under Rule 16.1b (Rule 16.1a(3)).

The same principles would apply to the use of a clearly unreasonable stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke., direction of play or the choice of a club.

16.1a(3)/3 – Application of Rule 16.1a(3) When Ball Lies Underground in Animal Hole

In deciding whether relief should be denied under Rule 16.1a(3) for a ball lying underground in an animal hole, the decision is made based on the lie the ball would have at the entrance to the hole as opposed to the ball’s position underground in the hole.

For example, in the general areaGeneral Area: The area of the course that covers all of the courseexcept for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole the player is playing.(...Continued), a player’s ball comes to rest underground in a hole made by an animalAnimal: Any living member of the animal kingdom (other than humans), including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates (such as worms, insects, spiders and crustaceans).. A large bush is immediately next to and overhanging the entrance to the animal holeAnimal Hole: Any hole dug in the ground by an animal, except for holes dug by animals that are also defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).(...Continued).

The nature of the area at the entrance of the animal holeAnimal Hole: Any hole dug in the ground by an animal, except for holes dug by animals that are also defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).(...Continued) is such that, if the animal holeAnimal Hole: Any hole dug in the ground by an animal, except for holes dug by animals that are also defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).(...Continued) was not there, it would be clearly unreasonable for the player to make a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) at the ball (because of the overhanging bush). In such a situation, the player is not allowed to take relief under Rule 16.1b. The player must play the ball as it lies or proceed under Rule 19 (Ball Unplayable).

If the ball lies in an animal holeAnimal Hole: Any hole dug in the ground by an animal, except for holes dug by animals that are also defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).(...Continued) but is not underground, the spot of the ball is used to determine whether it is clearly unreasonable to play the ball and if Rule 16.1a(3) applies. If Rule 16.1a(3) does not apply, the player is allowed relief without penalty under Rule 16.1b. The same principles would apply to a ball that is underground in an immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:(...Continued).

16.1b/1 – Relief Procedure When Ball Lies in Underground Abnormal Course Condition

When a ball enters an abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions: and comes to rest underground (and Rule 16.1a(3) does not apply), the relief procedure that applies depends on whether the ball lies in the general areaGeneral Area: The area of the course that covers all of the courseexcept for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole the player is playing.(...Continued) (Rule 16.1b), in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) (Rule 16.1c), in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there.(...Continued) (Rule 17.1c) or out of boundsOut of Bounds: All areas outside the boundary edge of the course as defined by the Committee. All areas inside that edge are in bounds.(...Continued) (Rule 18.2b).

Examples of whether relief is available and how to take relief are as follows:

Rule 16.1c Interpretations:

See Interpretation 17.1d(2)/1 – Recommendation That Player Physically Marks Reference Point on Reference Line

16.1c/1 – Player Takes Maximum Available Relief; Then Decides to Take Back-On-the-Line Relief

If the player takes maximum available relief, he or she will still have interference from the abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions: and may take further relief by using the back-on-the-line procedure for one penalty stroke. If the player decides to do this, the reference point for back-on-the-line relief is where the ball came to rest after taking maximum available relief.

16.1c/2 – After Lifting Ball Player May Change Relief Options Before Putting a Ball in Play

If a player lifts his or her ball to take relief under Rule 16.1c, he or she is not committed to the intended relief option under Rule 16.1c until the original ball is put in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:(...Continued) or another ball is substitutedSubstitute: To change the ball the player is using to play a hole by having another ball become the ball in play.(...Continued) under that option.

For example, a player elects to take relief from temporary waterTemporary Water: Any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation or an overflow from a body of water) that:(...Continued) in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) and lifts the ball with the intention of taking free relief in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) (Rule 16.1c(1)). The player then realizes that where the Rule requires the ball to be droppedDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.(...Continued) in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) will result in a very difficult shot.

After lifting the ball, but prior to putting a ball in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:(...Continued), the player may choose either of the two options of the Rule despite the original intention to take relief under Rule 16.1c(1).

16.1/1 – Relief from Abnormal Course Condition May Result in Better or Worse Conditions

If a player receives a better lieLie: The spot on which a ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching the ball or right next to it.(...Continued), area of intended swing or line of playLine of Play: The line where the player intends his or her ball to go after a stroke, including the area on that line that is a reasonable distance up above the ground and on either side of that line.(...Continued) in taking relief under Rule 16.1, this is the player’s good fortune. There is nothing in Rule 16.1 that requires him or her to maintain identical conditionsConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. after relief is taken.

For example, in taking relief from a sprinkler head (immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:(...Continued)) in the rough, the player’s nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) or relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:(...Continued) may be located in the fairway. If this results in the player being able to dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.(...Continued) a ball in the fairway, this is allowed.

In some situations, the conditionsConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. may be less advantageous to the player after relief is taken as compared with the conditionsConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. before relief is taken, such as when the nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) or relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:(...Continued) is in an area of rocks.

16.1/2 – If Interference by Second Abnormal Course Condition Exists after Complete Relief Taken from First Condition, Further Relief May Be Taken

If a player has interference by a second abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions: after taking complete relief from an abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions:, the second situation is a new situation and the player may again take relief under Rule 16.1.

For example, in the general areaGeneral Area: The area of the course that covers all of the courseexcept for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole the player is playing.(...Continued), there are two areas of temporary waterTemporary Water: Any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation or an overflow from a body of water) that:(...Continued) that are close together and the player has interference by one area but not the other. The player takes relief under Rule 16.1 and the ball comes to rest within the relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:(...Continued) at a spot where there is no longer interference by the first area of temporary waterTemporary Water: Any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation or an overflow from a body of water) that:(...Continued), but there is interference by the second area.

The player may play the ball as it lies or take relief from the second area under Rule 16.1.

The same outcome applies if there is interference by any other abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions:.

16.1/3 – Player May Choose to Take Relief from Either Condition When Interference by Two Conditions Exists

There are situations where a player may have interference by two conditions at the same time and, in those situations, the player may choose to take relief from either condition. If, after taking relief from one condition, interference by the second condition exists, the player may then take relief from the second condition.

Some examples of this include when:

However, in such situations, the player may not, in a single procedure, concurrently take relief from two conditions by droppingDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.(...Continued) a ball in a single relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:(...Continued) determined by a combined nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) from both conditions, except in the situation where the player has successively taken relief for interference from each condition and is essentially back where the player started.

16.1/4 – How to Take Relief When Ball Lies on Elevated Part of Immovable Obstruction

When a ball lies on an elevated part of an immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:(...Continued), the nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) is on the ground under the obstructionObstruction: Any artificial object except for integral objects and boundary objects.(...Continued). This is to make it easier to establish the nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) and to avoid it from being located on the branch of a nearby tree.

For example, a ball comes to rest in the general areaGeneral Area: The area of the course that covers all of the courseexcept for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole the player is playing.(...Continued) on the elevated part of an immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:(...Continued), such as a walkway or bridge over a deep hollow.

If the player elects to take relief in this situation, vertical distance is disregarded, and the nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) is the point (Point X) on the ground directly beneath where the ball lies on the obstructionObstruction: Any artificial object except for integral objects and boundary objects.(...Continued), provided that the player does not have interference, as defined in Rule 16.1a, at this point. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b by dropping a ball within the relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:(...Continued) determined using Point X as the reference point.

If there is interference from some part of the obstructionObstruction: Any artificial object except for integral objects and boundary objects.(...Continued) (such as a supporting column) for a ball located at Point X, the player may then take relief under Rule 16.1b by using Point X as the spot of the ball for purposes of finding the nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued).

See Interpretation 16.1/5 for when a ball lies underground and has interference from an immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:(...Continued).

16.1/5 – How to Measure Nearest Point of Complete Relief When Ball Underground in Abnormal Course Condition

The procedure when a ball lies underground in an abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions: (such as a tunnel) is different from when it is elevated. In such a case, determining the nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) must account for vertical and horizontal distance. In some cases, the nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) could be at the entrance to the tunnel, and in other cases it could be on the ground directly above where the ball lies in the tunnel.

See Interpretation 16.1/4 for when a ball lies on elevated part of an immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:(...Continued).

16.1/6 – Player May Wait to Determine Nearest Point of Complete Relief When Ball Is Moving in Water

When a ball is moving in temporary waterTemporary Water: Any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation or an overflow from a body of water) that:(...Continued), whether a player chooses to lift the moving ball or substituteSubstitute: To change the ball the player is using to play a hole by having another ball become the ball in play.(...Continued) another ball in taking relief under Rule 16.1, the player is allowed to let the ball move to a better spot before determining the nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) so long as he or she does not unreasonably delay play (Exception 3 to Rule 10.1d and Rule 5.6a).

For example, a player’s ball is moving in temporary waterTemporary Water: Any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation or an overflow from a body of water) that:(...Continued) across the fairway. The player arrives at the ball when it is at Point A and realizes that when it gets to Point B, which is five yards away, his or her nearest point of complete reliefNearest Point of Complete Relief: The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.(...Continued) will be in a much better spot than would be the case if relief is taken from Point A.

So long as the player does not unreasonably delay play (Rule 5.6a), he or she is allowed to delay starting the relief procedure until the ball reaches Point B.

16.2 Dangerous Animal Condition

16.2a/1 – No Free Relief from Dangerous Course Condition

If a player’s ball comes to rest in a spot where the player has interference from a plant or bush that could cause physical harm, such as poison ivy or a cactus, while the player may be faced with challenging circumstances or may be allergic to a given plant, he or she is not entitled to free relief under the Rules.

16.3 Embedded Ball

16.3a(2)/1 – Concluding Whether Ball Is Embedded in Its Own Pitch-mark

It must be reasonable to conclude that the ball is in its own pitch-mark for the player to take relief under Rule 16.3b.

An example of when it is reasonable to conclude that the ball came to rest in its own pitch-mark is when a player’s approach shot lands on soft ground just short of the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:(...Continued) in the general areaGeneral Area: The area of the course that covers all of the courseexcept for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole the player is playing.(...Continued). The player sees the ball bounce forward and then spin back. When the player arrives at the ball, he or she sees that it is embeddedEmbedded: When a player’s ball is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of the player’s previous stroke and where part of the ball is below the level of the ground.(...Continued) in the only pitch-mark in the area. Since it is reasonable to conclude that the ball spun back into its own pitch-mark, the player may take relief under Rule 16.3b.

However, if a player’s tee shot lands in the fairway and the ball bounces over a hill to a position where it could not be seen from the tee but is found in a pitch-mark, it is not reasonable to conclude that the ball is embeddedEmbedded: When a player’s ball is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of the player’s previous stroke and where part of the ball is below the level of the ground.(...Continued) in its own pitch-mark and the player is not allowed to take relief under Rule 16.3b.