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A Ball Is Lodged in a Tree Branch Beyond the Reach of a Club

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Stroke/1 – Determining If a Stroke Was Made

The player’s action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.


after reading rule 9.4 i'm uncertain what should happen in the above scenario. please help! 😅 

9.4a is applicable since no stroke has been made, stating the ball must be replaced in its original spot. but how could one be reasonably expected to replace a ball that is beyond the reach of their club? what happens if they can't? 

it also seems 9.4b should apply, causing the player to incur one penalty stroke, though i'm surprised the definition wouldn't just mention this. is this correct?

thank you!

rule 9.4: https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules/rules-2019/rules-of-golf/rule-9.html
definition of stroke: https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules/rules-2019/rules-of-golf/definitions_interpretations.html

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9.4a/1 – Procedure When Player’s Ball Is Dislodged From Tree


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@jlbos83, thanks for your help. 👍

after reading/re-reading the interpretation and definition a few times i realize what confused me. the part of the definition i quoted doesn't mention "retrieve" even though that's exactly what the player is doing in that scenario. 

the interpretations don't explicitly cover that same scenario from the definition (weirdly) but to me it looks like this how to correctly proceed:

the player should make it clear he or she will take unplayable ball relief under rule 19 before knocking the ball out of the tree. they get one penalty stroke under rule 19 but no additional strokes (rule 9.4) for deliberately causing the ball to move. 

Edited by hoselpalooza
a word

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