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Free Lift From Swale


Mkgrady

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My friend tells me that when a ball lands in a swale/depression or your stance is in a depression the ball can be moved out without penalty. I’m talking about a ball in the fairway in a narrow channel made to help drain the fairway. This channel is about two feet wide and runs across the entire fairway. The grass is cut just like the fairway and the deepest part of this swale is only about three inches below the level of the surrounding fairway. Hitting out of this depression is not real easy but I’m doubting his position that it calls for a free drop. What rule would allow this?

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19 minutes ago, Mkgrady said:

My friend tells me that when a ball lands in a swale/depression or your stance is in a depression the ball can be moved out without penalty. I’m talking about a ball in the fairway in a narrow channel made to help drain the fairway. This channel is about two feet wide and runs across the entire fairway. The grass is cut just like the fairway and the deepest part of this swale is only about three inches below the level of the surrounding fairway. Hitting out of this depression is not real easy but I’m doubting his position that it calls for a free drop. What rule would allow this?

It would probably be a local rule.  There's a course I play that has deep drainage ditches abutting some fairways.  Local rules, on the scorecard, allow a free drop.

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15 minutes ago, Double Mocha Man said:

It would probably be a local rule.  There's a course I play that has deep drainage ditches abutting some fairways.  Local rules, on the scorecard, allow a free drop.

Probably not, no.

Local Rules can't just be whatever you want them to be. They must still be approved by the USGA.

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12 minutes ago, iacas said:

Probably not, no.

Local Rules can't just be whatever you want them to be. They must still be approved by the USGA.

The local rule is on the scorecard. My guess is they cleared it with the USGA. In fact, they were a US Open sectional qualifier site several years ago.

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21 minutes ago, Double Mocha Man said:

The local rule is on the scorecard.

So?

In other words, how about rather than "my guess" and "what I found on USGA.org is this…" or something like that?

Have you looked at Rule 16? How about the Model Local Rules?

What have you found?

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26 minutes ago, Double Mocha Man said:

The local rule is on the scorecard. My guess is they cleared it with the USGA. In fact, they were a US Open sectional qualifier site several years ago.

You said "Local rules can't be whatever you want them to be".  I'm not following you...

If you are referring to the very first post in this thread then I am in agreement. The friend can't just make up his own rules.

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This sounds like a French drain. If the rocks that are part of its construction are visible  (meaning the sod on top of it is gone), it is a free drop as a man made object, just like a cart path. If there is grass on top, even though it's a visible depression, I don't think it can be a free drop, unless the course has a local rule allowing that.

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14 minutes ago, Double Mocha Man said:

You said "Local rules can't be whatever you want them to be".  I'm not following you...

You can't just make up whatever Local Rules you want. They're not allowed under the Rules of Golf.

So, I'm asking you to do a little work instead of just guessing at what may be possible here. This is the Rules of Golf forum. Let's post knowledgeable answers, not "my guess is…" answers.

So, what local rule or regular rule do you think might allow relief from a drainage "depression"? Particularly given that a "drainage ditch" is included in the definition for "penalty area."

Does a drainage ditch meet any of these for an ACC?

Abnormal Course Condition

Any of these four defined conditions:

  • Animal Hole,
  • Ground Under Repair,
  • Immovable Obstruction, or
  • Temporary Water.

It also doesn't sound like Model Local Rule F-20 applies:

Model Local Rule F-20

“Drainage channels that are made of artificial materials and run next to cart paths are treated as immovable obstructions in the general area and are part of the cart path. A player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b.

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These things have perfectly good grass in them. The grass is cut to the same length and there is no stones under the grass. There is no mention of them on the score card. I think my friend has it wrong. Thanks for the replies. 

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My home course has a few drainage “channels” that are shaped into certain fairways that I suppose are intended to capture and then divert water elsewhere. Maybe a foot wide and 3-4 inches deep, but definitely part of the fairway. They’re not French drains or depressions from some subterranean drainage system. Just an unlucky spot for your ball to stop.

Unless there is standing water in them, I’ve always just attempted to play the ball out, which can be a challenge. 

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5 hours ago, sjduffers said:

This sounds like a French drain. If the rocks that are part of its construction are visible  (meaning the sod on top of it is gone), it is a free drop as a man made object, just like a cart path. If there is grass on top, even though it's a visible depression, I don't think it can be a free drop, unless the course has a local rule allowing that.

Some years ago I was in correspondence with both the USGA and the R&A about French Drains. 

The USGA were telling clubs that they should be defined as Ground Under Repair in Local Rules. The R&A were saying they were Immovable Obstructions by the then definition. After some toing and froing the USGA agreed.

But I still suspect they are advising clubs to label them as GUR.

Both bodies agreed that if they were grass covered they must be identified in the LR.

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Thanks @Rulesman.  You explained it way better than I did, but I am glad that my understanding was sound. 👍

Edited by sjduffers
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55 minutes ago, Darkfrog said:

This is what the channels look like on my course (not a great angle but it shows the concept):

C4F4A89C-D1B2-4D67-852B-F779F3037EE7.thumb.jpeg.53b0a3570b500f54b8e54517750c40fb.jpeg

Interesting that all the divots are on the uphill side.  Perchance some foot wedge action?  😁

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1 hour ago, Darkfrog said:

This is what the channels look like on my course (not a great angle but it shows the concept):

C4F4A89C-D1B2-4D67-852B-F779F3037EE7.thumb.jpeg.53b0a3570b500f54b8e54517750c40fb.jpeg

Is the direction of play to the left or right. Not that it makes any difference to my suggestion.

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