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Local Rule for Embedded Ball That Is Lost Is 'Not Authorized'


reidsou
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At our course there is mushy ground near the green on one hole. A ball hit into that area plugs and often cannot be found.  According to the USGA, an embedded ball that cannot be found is lost. See rule 18.2.  

Note that rule 16.1e does not apply - the area is not an abnormal course condition (not GUR and not temporary water). 

Why is a local rule to allow free relief "not authorized"? (I.e. there are no model local rules that cover this situation.) 

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  • iacas changed the title to Local Rule for Embedded Ball That Is Lost Is 'Not Authorized'
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Are you basically asking why a Local Rule put in place by one course isn't "authorized"?

Why should it be? If it's not an abnormal course condition, the ball is lost. Courses — though they try — can't just make up whatever "Local Rules" they want.

IMO, the course should tidy up that area to make it less mushy.

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

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2 hours ago, reidsou said:

At our course there is mushy ground near the green on one hole. A ball hit into that area plugs and often cannot be found.  According to the USGA, an embedded ball that cannot be found is lost. See rule 18.2.  

Note that rule 16.1e does not apply - the area is not an abnormal course condition (not GUR and not temporary water). 

Why is a local rule to allow free relief "not authorized"? (I.e. there are no model local rules that cover this situation.) 

If the course truly wants to allow relief, they do have the authority to define that area as Ground Under Repair.  If a ball cannot be found, but is Known or Virtually Certain to be in the GUR, relief is available.  But the better solution, long term, is to clean it up, improve drainage, whatever it takes, just a @iacas suggests.  Calling it GUR is a bandaid, addressing a long-term problem on a short-term basis.

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

Are you basically asking why a Local Rule put in place by one course isn't "authorized"?

Why should it be? If it's not an abnormal course condition, the ball is lost. Courses — though they try — can't just make up whatever "Local Rules" they want.

IMO, the course should tidy up that area to make it less mushy.

Thanks for the reply. I'm trying to understand the USGA's logic in not allowing such a local rule. In order to answer members who are pushing for it. 

Regarding cleaning up mushy ground - we're in Seattle! 

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19 minutes ago, reidsou said:

Thanks for the reply. I'm trying to understand the USGA's logic in not allowing such a local rule. In order to answer members who are pushing for it.

Declare it as GUR.

What's to be gained by making a Local Rule? What would the Local Rule say, anyway? "This area is often wet, but we don't want to repair it nor do we want to label it GUR, so if you play your ball into it treat it not as lost but as a ball in an abnormal course condition or GUR."

I mean, there's already a solution.

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Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

Declare it as GUR.

What's to be gained by making a Local Rule? What would the Local Rule say, anyway? "This area is often wet, but we don't want to repair it nor do we want to label it GUR, so if you play your ball into it treat it not as lost but as a ball in an abnormal course condition or GUR."

I mean, there's already a solution.

Yes that was my idea also - mark it GUR. Unfortunately, the course will not do so. 

Members want to implement a rule similar to what you stated. I'm asking for the reason it would be unauthorized. I.e. what is the USGA's logic in this case?  

I realize it may be hard to answer. When I have talked to USGA rules support they often do not know the reasons either. 

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7 hours ago, reidsou said:

At our course there is mushy ground near the green on one hole. A ball hit into that area plugs and often cannot be found.  According to the USGA, an embedded ball that cannot be found is lost. See rule 18.2.  

Note that rule 16.1e does not apply - the area is not an abnormal course condition (not GUR and not temporary water). 

Why is a local rule to allow free relief "not authorized"? (I.e. there are no model local rules that cover this situation.) 

If the ball cannot be found how do you know it is embedded?

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7 hours ago, Rulesman said:

If the ball cannot be found how do you know it is embedded?

Because the whole group watched it land (and not bounce) in an area that is clearly visible from the tee, so we know its location. Plus we know that balls hit to that area will embed. The grass is short enough that the only reason it cannot be found is that it is embedded. 

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15 hours ago, reidsou said:

Why is a local rule to allow free relief "not authorized"? (I.e. there are no model local rules that cover this situation.) 

Even if the course will not mark the area (labour cost?) they can specify the area on a notice or the card providing it defines the area very specifically. Do the margins vary according to the weather?

 How would you word the local rule?

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10 hours ago, reidsou said:

Yes that was my idea also - mark it GUR. Unfortunately, the course will not do so. 

Members want to implement a rule similar to what you stated. I'm asking for the reason it would be unauthorized. I.e. what is the USGA's logic in this case?  

The course will allow a Local Rule, but won't allow the area to be defined as GUR?  A better question is to the club's reasoning.  

Obviously I can't define the USGA's reasoning, but I'd refer you to this from the introduction to Section 8 (Model Local Rules) in Committee Procedures:

"In order to ensure that play is conducted in accordance with the Rules of Golf, a Committee must not use a Local Rule to waive or modify the Rules of Golf simply because it might prefer a Rule to be different"

Rule 16.3 allows relief for an Embedded Ball if you find it and can verify that its actually embedded.  You'd like to delete those requirements.  There's a solution to the problem already in the rules, the best course of action is to use that solution, not to make up a new one.

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Dave

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5 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

There's a solution to the problem already in the rules, the best course of action is to use that solution, not to make up a new one.

Right. This is what I'm saying, too.

16 hours ago, reidsou said:

I.e. what is the USGA's logic in this case?  

I imagine their logic is that there's already a solution to the problem.

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Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

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Thanks for the answers and insights. In our case the "course" and the "club" are different organizations. However, I reread chapter 2 of Committee Procedures, which makes clear that marking GUR is the committee's (i.e. club's) responsibility.   

And I now agree with @iacas that would likely be the USGA's reasoning as well. 

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The USGA called me back. The rules official agreed with above regarding designating GUR.

Also said the reason a local rule (that would allow free relief for a ball known to be embedded, but not found, in the general area) is not authorized is that the relief area is not defined.

My understanding of this is there is an underlying rules principle that a ball in play must have a clearly defined "chain of custody". It is similar to the reason that relief from abnormal course conditions may only be taken one at a time. (With the exception noted in Interpretation 16.1/3.) 

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Not always the case but a “mushy” area sounds exactly like it could be an abnormal course condition = casual water. Wouldn’t that qualify for 16.1e?

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1 hour ago, Brock said:

Not always the case but a “mushy” area sounds exactly like it could be an abnormal course condition = casual water. Wouldn’t that qualify for 16.1e?

From my original post, "Note that rule 16.1e does not apply - the area is not an abnormal course condition (not GUR and not temporary water)."

Might want to review the definition of temporary water. It does not include muddy, soft, or "mushy" ground. 

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On 6/20/2022 at 5:56 AM, Brock said:

Not always the case but a “mushy” area sounds exactly like it could be an abnormal course condition = casual water. Wouldn’t that qualify for 16.1e?

Apart from what  OP has just repeated, the clue is in the term temporary water,  the revised name for what used to be called casual water.   As it is  a temporary condition, you could not designate an area as temporary water all the time. And to push that thought further, if it were water all the time it wouldn't be temporary but by definition a penalty area.

It wouldn't be surprising if on occasion parts of this mushy area do meet the criteria to be temporary water (I get the notion that you get occasional showers in Seattle) but it could be very difficult to know or have virtual certainty that a lost ball was in such a patch. 

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