'Half the courses in Scotland'. Really? You played 290 of the 580 courses?
I have taken the opportunity to contact a CONGU committee member who says your claim is nonsense. Odd courses may have got under the radar but not many. But it may well be that some courses allowed relief in social play. I will speak to the R&A on Monday to see what their reaction is.
Of course, the website you got your information from has no official standing. It is just a journalist saying what he thinks.
I think he's getting that from here: http://www.scottishgolfview.com/2009/12/changes-to-decisions-on-rules-of-golf.html .
I grew up playing under a local rule that allowed relief from seeded divots, hence my surprise at the heated reaction on this thread. I've not seen the same Local Rule declared in a while, though I've moved from one part of the country to another and am playing different courses. I didn't know that there had been a Decision specifically declaring such a LR to be OB. That article states that some such Local Rule was commonly applied, and that is consistent with my own experience. I'm not claiming that article is proof, but I'd suggest that it's better evidence of local practice than any of the opinions that have been voiced on this thread by people with little or no experience of the locality.
@Rulesman - would you be willing to ask your CONGU committee member friend to state formally, on behalf of CONGU and not as a personal opinion, whether pre-2010 handicaps obtained from play under such a local rule were invalid?
And if you are also speaking to the R&A, would you be willing to ask them to state whether the 2010 Decision altered a Committee's discretion to make such a local rule?
And if the answer is "no" - would you be willing to ask them to explain why the Decision was explicitly effective from a specified date rather than retroactive?
Again, if what comes back is explicitly a representative R&A view and not a personal view - then I think that would settle the issue for me.