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Gopher Tortoise hole


Keysbear152
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My wife and I were playing last weekend on a course that is in an area designated as a wildlife preserve. Her tee shot rolled down into a Gopher Tortoise den. We could see it about 3 feet in but seeing that the Gopher Tortoise is a protected species, it was a wildlife preserve and who knows what other critters might be in there we let it be. The ball wasn't lost as we could see it and have reached it if we had wanted to. Obviously with us just playing a casual round with nothing at stake she just dropped another ball and played on. I am just curious of what the actual rule on that would be had we been in a local competition?

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I would assume the wildlife area was marked as a hazard or ob no? 

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I would think (get's me into trouble sometimes) that it would be no different if a fox had ran onto the course grabbed your ball and ran away.   Drop as if nothing had happened and continue, unless it was OB or in a hazard.

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As long as the ball is in bounds, and not in a penalty area, she would get relief, an "animal hole" is an "abnormal course condition".  For details review Rule 16.  You should also look at the Interpretations for Rule 16, since the location of the ball (under a bunker, near OB lines, etc) can have some impact on where you take your relief.

http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules/rules-2019/rules-of-golf/rules-and-interpretations.html#!ruletype=fr&section=rule&rulenum=16

Edited by DaveP043
add direct link to rule
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