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Abnormal Ground Condition? Found after 5 minutes

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

Yesterday, in the 1st round of our Club Championship, players A, B & C hit shots from ~170-200 yards towards a front pin on the 6th hole where you can't see the green surface from back on the fairway.  All 3 are reasonably well struck and we expect all 3 to be on or near the green.

 

When we arrive at the green 1 ball is on the putting surface (Player C), 1 ball is just off (Player B) and the 3rd ball is nowhere to be seen.  Short of the green is mostly closely mown grass, except for a small area leading into a drain pipe about 10 yards short of the green where the grass is about 2.5" long.  The area around the drain pipe, including the closely mown areas is very wet, some of which would qualify as casual water.  About 20 yards away, on the left side of the fairway, on the path that leads to the drain pipe is a Ground Under Repair sign, but there is no area circled.

 

After looking long, short, right, left and in the hole for a few minutes we have come to the conclusion that the ball must have embedded with the only other remote options being that it hit the stick and ricocheted 30 to 40+ yards into the hazard (that the drain pipe feeds to) or OB.  The only other option would seem to be someone picking up the ball.

 

Could player A have taken a free drop at the area leading into the wet area under the premise that the ball was lost in abnormal ground conditions?  I realize this is a question of fact given the circumstances.  What is your opinion based on the facts given?

 

Instead, after an estimated 5+ minute search, we advised Player A to go back and re-hit, which he did.  Just after he re-hit, player C found player A's original ball fully embedded near the drain pipe.  Our course grants relief from embedded balls through the green per local rule.  It was my opinion that he had to continue with his replacement ball, but I advised him that he could play out his original under 3-3 and ask for the committee to rule.  How should the committee rule?

 

Side question- It is proper to drop within 1 club length, no near the hole from an embedded ball, correct?  Previously, was the relief to place the ball as near as possible to the original position.  I have recollections of this and this is what player C thought was the proper relief for an embedded ball.

post #2 of 32
Quote:
Could player A have taken a free drop at the area leading into the wet area under the premise that the ball was lost in abnormal ground conditions?

No. Unless it was "known or virtually certain" that the ball was lost there.

 

 

Quote:
How should the committee rule?

 

 After the 5 minute search time elapsed the ball is lost. Furthermore, once A plays another ball that ball becomes the ball in play regardless of whether the original ball is subsequently found.

post #3 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

Side question- It is proper to drop within 1 club length, no near the hole from an embedded ball, correct?  Previously, was the relief to place the ball as near as possible to the original position.  I have recollections of this and this is what player C thought was the proper relief for an embedded ball.

Relief for an embedded ball is to drop it as near as possible to its original location. Local rule can change the "closely mown area" requirement but cannot change the relief granted.

 

If "winter rules" are in effect you can lift clean and place within a distance specified in the local rule but that is a different issue and procedure than relief from an embedded ball.

post #4 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fr0sty View Post

No. Unless it was "known or virtually certain" that the ball was lost there.

 

Given the facts, do you think we had enough evidence to be virtually certain the ball was lost in an abnormal ground condition (prior to finding the ball embedded)?

post #5 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

Given the facts, do you think we had enough evidence to be virtually certain the ball was lost in an abnormal ground condition (prior to finding the ball embedded)?

It would depend on how likely you thought the other possibilities were. You mention the ball being taken, travelling OB, or into a water hazard. Were there other areas (bunkers or bushes) where the ball may have been?

 

Given what you said above I would say "no" but I'm going on incomplete information.

post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 

He was hitting from A and we found the ball at point B.  I didn't have a good angle looking at the shot,  but the others in the group felt it was headed for the pin which was right front.  https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=39.502818,-106.144364&daddr=39.501984,-106.145574&hl=en&sll=39.502325,-106.144369&sspn=0.001819,0.004128&t=h&gl=us&mra=mift&mrsp=0&sz=19&z=19  Most of the non-fairway grass is pretty closely mown right now, other than the area immediately around the drain pipe where we found the ball.

 

The ground is mostly flat in the area we were looking at was very soft/wet.  The nearby bunkers were off his line of flight and are pretty flat, so not much chance of a ball hiding in them without burying.  The only conceivable way for the ball to have gone far enough right or left to make it to the hazard or OB, IMO, was to hit the stick.  We did not witness anyone nearby to pick it up, but there is a road where people drive, bike (and occasionally walk), so it would not be 100% impossible, but would be extremely unlikely that this would happen. 

post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 

I still have some questions in my mind about this-

 

1.  How wide did the abnormal ground conditions extend?

     a.  There was a "ground under repair" sign, but no circle on the other side of the fairway from A's ball with a wet area that extended towards A's ball to the drain pipe.  When there is no circle by a "ground under repair" sign how do you determine the area that is under repair?

     b.  Parts of the area around A's ball were definitely casual water, while other areas were much wetter than the rest of the course, but likely would not have qualified as casual water.

 

2.  Does anyone else have any thoughts about the virtual certainty issue?  Seems to me that the bigger and more contiguous the abnormal ground area, the more likely that we would be virtually certain the ball was lost there.  Assuming that the most likely alternative was hitting the stick and ricochet at least 30 yards to a non abnormal ground area where it wouldn't be visible.  Assuming the whole area around where we found the ball was an abnormal ground condition, is the possibility of a 30+ yard ricochet off the stick enough to eliminate virtual certainty?  

post #8 of 32
All Ive learned mfree is that your course does a lousy job of marking things appropriately and if they could you would not have to post so many goshdern rules situations.
post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

I still have some questions in my mind about this-

 

1.  How wide did the abnormal ground conditions extend?

     a.  There was a "ground under repair" sign, but no circle on the other side of the fairway from A's ball with a wet area that extended towards A's ball to the drain pipe.  When there is no circle by a "ground under repair" sign how do you determine the area that is under repair?

     b.  Parts of the area around A's ball were definitely casual water, while other areas were much wetter than the rest of the course, but likely would not have qualified as casual water.

 

2.  Does anyone else have any thoughts about the virtual certainty issue?  Seems to me that the bigger and more contiguous the abnormal ground area, the more likely that we would be virtually certain the ball was lost there.  Assuming that the most likely alternative was hitting the stick and ricochet at least 30 yards to a non abnormal ground area where it wouldn't be visible.  Assuming the whole area around where we found the ball was an abnormal ground condition, is the possibility of a 30+ yard ricochet off the stick enough to eliminate virtual certainty?  

 

Virtual certainty is just that.  If there is room for doubt, then virtual certainty doesn't exist and the ball is lost.  The fact that you can ask the question would seem to be all the answer you need.  If the answer isn't obvious, then you are not virtually certain.  If the GUR isn't properly marked, and if it's an "official" round of some sort, then I'd use Rule 3-3 and play a second ball. then take it to the committee.  That's what Rule 3-3 is for.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil McGleno View Post

All Ive learned mfree is that your course does a lousy job of marking things appropriately and if they could you would not have to post so many goshdern rules situations.

 

d2_doh.gif  

post #10 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil McGleno View Post

All Ive learned mfree is that your course does a lousy job of marking things appropriately and if they could you would not have to post so many goshdern rules situations.

You are right about that, but it is actually 3 different courses that I play regularly at 2 different local clubs in my county.  I believe that some of this is the clubs' fault and some of it is the mountain conditions we deal with- lot of sun, but lots of rain this summer, native grass areas, wetlands, ESAs, very short season (mid-May to early October at one club, June-September at the other).

post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post

 

Virtual certainty is just that.  If there is room for doubt, then virtual certainty doesn't exist and the ball is lost.  The fact that you can ask the question would seem to be all the answer you need.  If the answer isn't obvious, then you are not virtually certain.  If the GUR isn't properly marked, and if it's an "official" round of some sort, then I'd use Rule 3-3 and play a second ball. then take it to the committee.  That's what Rule 3-3 is for.

 

 

d2_doh.gif  

Does the possibility of hitting the stick and ricocheting 30+ yards (when you did not see or hear the ball hit the stick) put doubt in your mind?  I thought "virtually certainty" was not absolute certainty, but something pretty close. 

 

He played 2 different balls under 3.3- 1- his original ball with relief from its own pitch mark AFTER  we found it 5+ minutes later, 2- a second ball from where he struck the ball that we did not find within 5 minutes.  Not sure how the committee ruled, but would not be surprised if they count the score on his first ball.  In hindsight, it seems he should have played a replacement to his original within 5 minutes at the entry point to what might have been abnormal ground conditions and a 2nd ball the same as he did (from the spot that he hit is ~180 yard approach shot that we did not find within 5 minutes). 

post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

Does the possibility of hitting the stick and ricocheting 30+ yards (when you did not see or hear the ball hit the stick) put doubt in your mind?  I thought "virtually certainty" was not absolute certainty, but something pretty close. 

 

He played 2 different balls under 3.3- 1- his original ball with relief from its own pitch mark AFTER  we found it 5+ minutes later, 2- a second ball from where he struck the ball that we did not find within 5 minutes.  Not sure how the committee ruled, but would not be surprised if they count the score on his first ball.  In hindsight, it seems he should have played a replacement to his original within 5 minutes at the entry point to what might have been abnormal ground conditions and a 2nd ball the same as he did (from the spot that he hit is ~180 yard approach shot that we did not find within 5 minutes). 

 

The way I read virtual certainty, it is at least as high and probably higher than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard we use for convicting in a criminal case.

post #13 of 32

The question of virtual certainty is moot.

He didn't find his ball within 5 minutes.

post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtleback View Post

 

The way I read virtual certainty, it is at least as high and probably higher than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard we use for convicting in a criminal case.

 

I agree, turtleback. Another good test is to ask, "Is there any possibility that the ball could be somewhere else?"

post #15 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asheville View Post

 

I agree, turtleback. Another good test is to ask, "Is there any possibility that the ball could be somewhere else?"

or Unlike "knowledge," "virtual certainty" implies some small degree of doubt about the actual location of a ball that has not been found.

 

to me, any possibility excludes some small degree of doubt, so I think your question may require a higher degree of certainty than the USGA??

post #16 of 32

26-1/1

Meaning of "Known or Virtually Certain"

When a ball has been struck towards a water hazard and cannot be found, a player may not assume that his ball is in the water hazard simply because there is a possibility that the ball may be in the water hazard. In order to proceed under Rule 26-1, it must be "known or virtually certain" that the ball is in the water hazard. In the absence of "knowledge or virtual certainty" that it lies in a water hazard, a ball that cannot be found must be considered lost somewhere other than in a water hazard and the player must proceed under Rule 27-1.

When a player's ball cannot be found, "knowledge" may be gained that his ball is in a water hazard in a number of ways. The player or his caddie or other members of his match or group may actually observe the ball disappear into the water hazard. Evidence provided by other reliable witnesses may also establish that the ball is in the water hazard. Such evidence could come from a referee, an observer, spectators or other outside agencies. It is important that all readily accessible information be considered because, for example, the mere fact that a ball has splashed in a water hazard would not always provide "knowledge" that the ball is in the water hazard, as there are instances when a ball may skip out of, and come to rest outside, the hazard.

In the absence of "knowledge" that the ball is in the water hazard, Rule 26-1requires there to be "virtual certainty" that the player's ball is in the water hazard in order to proceed under this Rule. Unlike "knowledge," "virtual certainty" implies some small degree of doubt about the actual location of a ball that has not been found. However, "virtual certainty" also means that, although the ball has not been found, when all readily available information is considered, the conclusion that there is nowhere that the ball could be except in the water hazard would be justified.

In determining whether "virtual certainty" exists, some of the relevant factors in the area of the water hazard to be considered include topography, turf conditions, grass heights, visibility, weather conditions and the proximity of trees, bushes and abnormal ground conditions.

The same principles would apply for a ball that may have been moved by an outside agency (Rule 18-1) or a ball that has not been found and may be in an obstruction (Rule 24-3) or an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1c).  (Revised)

26-1/1.3

When is it Necessary to Go Forward to Establish "Virtual Certainty"?

Q.Rule 26-1 requires there to be "knowledge or virtual certainty" before proceeding under the provisions of the Rule. In the absence of "knowledge" that a ball is in a water hazard, is it possible to establish the existence of "virtual certainty" without going forward to assess the physical conditions around the water hazard?

A.In the majority of cases, in order for it to be reasonably concluded that the ball does not lie anywhere outside the water hazard, it is necessary to go forward to assess the physical conditions around the hazard. However, there are situations where there will be sufficient evidence that the ball is in the hazard to establish "virtual certainty" without anyone having to go forward to review the physical conditions around the hazard.

In the following examples, the conclusion that it is "virtually certain" that the ball is in the water hazard would be justified without anyone going forward to the water hazard so that the player would be entitled to proceed under the provisions of Rule 26-1.

  • It is a clear day, with good visibility. A player's ball is struck towards a water hazard, which has closely mown grass extending right up to its margin. The ball is observed to fall out of sight as it approaches the water hazard but is not seen actually to enter it. From a distance, it can be seen that there is no golf ball lying on the closely mown grass outside the hazard and, from both prior experience and a reasonable evaluation of current course conditions, it is known that the contour of the ground surrounding the hazard causes balls to enter the hazard. In such circumstances, it is reasonable for the conclusion to be reached from a distance that the ball must be in the water hazard.
  • It is a clear day, with good visibility. A player's ball is struck towards an island putting green. The margin of the water hazard coincides with the apron of the putting green. Both from prior experience and a reasonable evaluation of current course conditions, it is understood that any ball that comes to rest on the apron or the putting green will be visible from where the stroke was made. In this instance, the ball is observed to land on the putting green and roll out of sight. It is therefore concluded that the ball has carried over the green and into the water hazard. The player drops a ball in a dropping zone in front of the hazard, which has been provided by the Committee as an additional option to those under Rule 26-1, and plays to the green. When he arrives at the putting green, he discovers his original ball on the back apron of the green lying on a sunken sprinkler head. Nonetheless, in the circumstances, it was reasonable for the conclusion to be reached from where the ball was last played that the ball must be in the water hazard.

In the following example, it cannot be established that there is "virtual certainty" that the ball is in the water hazard without going forward to assess the area surrounding the hazard.

  • It is a clear day, with good visibility. A player's ball is struck towards a water hazard, which has closely mown grass extending right up to its margin. The ball is observed travelling in the direction of the water hazard and it is known from prior experience that, with normal turf conditions, the ball would undoubtedly go into the water hazard. However, on this day, the fairways are wet and therefore it is possible that the ball could have embedded in the fairway and thus might not be in the water hazard. (New)
post #17 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

26-1/1

Meaning of "Known or Virtually Certain"

When a ball has been struck towards a water hazard and cannot be found, a player may not assume that his ball is in the water hazard simply because there is a possibility that the ball may be in the water hazard. In order to proceed under Rule 26-1, it must be "known or virtually certain" that the ball is in the water hazard. In the absence of "knowledge or virtual certainty" that it lies in a water hazard, a ball that cannot be found must be considered lost somewhere other than in a water hazard and the player must proceed under Rule 27-1.

When a player's ball cannot be found, "knowledge" may be gained that his ball is in a water hazard in a number of ways. The player or his caddie or other members of his match or group may actually observe the ball disappear into the water hazard. Evidence provided by other reliable witnesses may also establish that the ball is in the water hazard. Such evidence could come from a referee, an observer, spectators or other outside agencies. It is important that all readily accessible information be considered because, for example, the mere fact that a ball has splashed in a water hazard would not always provide "knowledge" that the ball is in the water hazard, as there are instances when a ball may skip out of, and come to rest outside, the hazard.

In the absence of "knowledge" that the ball is in the water hazard, Rule 26-1requires there to be "virtual certainty" that the player's ball is in the water hazard in order to proceed under this Rule. Unlike "knowledge," "virtual certainty" implies some small degree of doubt about the actual location of a ball that has not been found. However, "virtual certainty" also means that, although the ball has not been found, when all readily available information is considered, the conclusion that there is nowhere that the ball could be except in the water hazard would be justified.

In determining whether "virtual certainty" exists, some of the relevant factors in the area of the water hazard to be considered include topography, turf conditions, grass heights, visibility, weather conditions and the proximity of trees, bushes and abnormal ground conditions.

The same principles would apply for a ball that may have been moved by an outside agency (Rule 18-1) or a ball that has not been found and may be in an obstruction (Rule 24-3) or an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1c).  (Revised)

26-1/1.3

When is it Necessary to Go Forward to Establish "Virtual Certainty"?

Q.Rule 26-1 requires there to be "knowledge or virtual certainty" before proceeding under the provisions of the Rule. In the absence of "knowledge" that a ball is in a water hazard, is it possible to establish the existence of "virtual certainty" without going forward to assess the physical conditions around the water hazard?

A.In the majority of cases, in order for it to be reasonably concluded that the ball does not lie anywhere outside the water hazard, it is necessary to go forward to assess the physical conditions around the hazard. However, there are situations where there will be sufficient evidence that the ball is in the hazard to establish "virtual certainty" without anyone having to go forward to review the physical conditions around the hazard.

In the following examples, the conclusion that it is "virtually certain" that the ball is in the water hazard would be justified without anyone going forward to the water hazard so that the player would be entitled to proceed under the provisions of Rule 26-1.

  • It is a clear day, with good visibility. A player's ball is struck towards a water hazard, which has closely mown grass extending right up to its margin. The ball is observed to fall out of sight as it approaches the water hazard but is not seen actually to enter it. From a distance, it can be seen that there is no golf ball lying on the closely mown grass outside the hazard and, from both prior experience and a reasonable evaluation of current course conditions, it is known that the contour of the ground surrounding the hazard causes balls to enter the hazard. In such circumstances, it is reasonable for the conclusion to be reached from a distance that the ball must be in the water hazard.
  • It is a clear day, with good visibility. A player's ball is struck towards an island putting green. The margin of the water hazard coincides with the apron of the putting green. Both from prior experience and a reasonable evaluation of current course conditions, it is understood that any ball that comes to rest on the apron or the putting green will be visible from where the stroke was made. In this instance, the ball is observed to land on the putting green and roll out of sight. It is therefore concluded that the ball has carried over the green and into the water hazard. The player drops a ball in a dropping zone in front of the hazard, which has been provided by the Committee as an additional option to those under Rule 26-1, and plays to the green. When he arrives at the putting green, he discovers his original ball on the back apron of the green lying on a sunken sprinkler head. Nonetheless, in the circumstances, it was reasonable for the conclusion to be reached from where the ball was last played that the ball must be in the water hazard.

In the following example, it cannot be established that there is "virtual certainty" that the ball is in the water hazard without going forward to assess the area surrounding the hazard.

  • It is a clear day, with good visibility. A player's ball is struck towards a water hazard, which has closely mown grass extending right up to its margin. The ball is observed travelling in the direction of the water hazard and it is known from prior experience that, with normal turf conditions, the ball would undoubtedly go into the water hazard. However, on this day, the fairways are wet and therefore it is possible that the ball could have embedded in the fairway and thus might not be in the water hazard. (New)

so how would you apply that to the facts I gave?

post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

so how would you apply that to the facts I gave?

 

Come on man, you were there.  You should be able to apply it yourself.  If nobody found the original ball within 5 minutes, it was lost.  It seems apparent that you thought that there was enough doubt as to the ball's location to do a full 5 minute search, so that tells me that there was uncertainty as to the possible locations.  Therefore, from what you have presented, virtual certainty was lacking.  

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