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BruceTeam

Free Relief From Fairway Sand-filled Divots Rule 16.3a and 16.3b?

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According to a UK referee I was corresponding with about the new rules, the R&A gentlemen said in his opinion free relief can be taken under the new golf rules from a sand-filled divot or sand filled next to a  drain, etc. in the fairway under Rule 16.3a. Here is the explanation:

Ball in Sand Filled Divot in General Area– Possible Free Relief.  This may be a gray area, but if a ball is embedded in sand on the fairway or other general areas, there seems to be free relief allowed if the sand is in an area cut to fairway height or less.  This would mean in effect, you can get relief for a ball embedded in a sand-filled divot or drain on the fairway provided the sand or drain is in an area cut to fairway height or less (Rule 16.3a and exceptions under that rule).

Rule 16.3a provides: 

When Relief Is Allowed

(1) Ball Must Be Embedded in General Area. Relief is allowed under Rule 16.3b only when a player’s ball is embedded in the general area.

  • There is no relief under this Rule if the ball is embedded anywhere except in the general area.
  • But if the ball is embedded on the putting green, the player may mark the spot of the ball and lift and clean the ball, repair the damage caused by the ball’s impact, and replace the ball on its original spot (see Rule 13.1c(2)).

Exceptions – When Relief Not Allowed for Ball Embedded in General Area: Relief under Rule 16.3b is not allowed:

  • When the ball is embedded in sand in a part of the general area that is not cut to fairway height or less, or
  • When interference by anything other than the ball being embedded makes the stroke clearly unreasonable (for example, when a player is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush).

(2) Determining Whether Ball Is Embedded. A player’s ball is embedded only if:

  • It is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of the player’s previous stroke, and
  • Part of the ball is below the level of the ground.

If the player cannot tell for sure whether the ball is in its own pitch-mark or a pitch-mark made by another ball, the player may treat the ball as embedded if it is reasonable to conclude from the available information that the ball is in its own pitch-mark.

A ball is not embedded if it is below the level of the ground as a result of anything other than the player’s previous stroke, such as when:

  • The ball is pushed into the ground by someone stepping on it,
  • The ball is driven straight into the ground without becoming airborne, or
  • The ball was dropped in taking relief under a Rule.
 
Diagram16-3a-ENG
DIAGRAM 16.3a: WHEN A BALL IS EMBEDDED
Rule 16.3b provides:
b
Relief for Embedded Ball

When a player’s ball is embedded in the general area and relief is allowed under Rule 16.3a, the player may take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3😞

  • Reference Point: The spot right behind where the ball is embedded.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-lengthbut with these limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area:
    • Must be in the general area, and
    • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point.

See Committee Procedures, Section 8Model Local Rule F-2 (the Committeemay adopt a Local Rule allowing relief only for a ball embedded in an area cut to fairway height or less).

Anyway, when we fill in divots we can't put too much sand in a divot because it will mess with the mower blades, but as this rule change gets to be known more and more, I think players will be filling their divots a lot more with sand than they used to. Haha!

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(2) Determining Whether Ball Is Embedded. A player’s ball is embedded only if:

  • It is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of the player’s previous stroke, and
  • Part of the ball is below the level of the ground.

 

Note, you don’t get relief just because the ball lies in a bit of sand and therefore part of it is below the level of the ground.  It ALSO has to be embedded in its own pitch-mark.  So sure, if it’s genuinely embedded, in its own pitch-mark, you get relief, regardless if it’s in a repaired divot or any other place in the general area.

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So when Hideki cheated ( lied about his intent) and quickly stomped down his divot as the ball was rolling back towards his pitch mark, had the ball settled into the divot hole and been considered partially below ground wouldn’t he have been given a free drop?

Also, what’s the call if the ball rolls back to a pitch mark and settles underneath the divot which was only ripped up but not detached like a little tent. The ball may be at ground level but with ground actually on top of the ball. Is that a free drop?

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8 hours ago, Vinsk said:

So when Hideki cheated ( lied about his intent) and quickly stomped down his divot as the ball was rolling back towards his pitch mark, had the ball settled into the divot hole and been considered partially below ground wouldn’t he have been given a free drop?

Also, what’s the call if the ball rolls back to a pitch mark and settles underneath the divot which was only ripped up but not detached like a little tent. The ball may be at ground level but with ground actually on top of the ball. Is that a free drop?

Of course not...

 I think with the OP is trying to say is that this “rules official” believes that a ball that simply roles into a sanded divot and settles into the sand a little bit should be allowed relief because it’s “embedded“. That’s absolutely incorrect, because the rule specifically requires that it be embedded in its own pitch-mark.  

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Just now, David in FL said:

Of course not...

 I think with the OP is trying to say is that this “rules official” believes that a ball that simply roles into a sanded divot and settles into the sand a little bit should be allowed relief because it’s “embedded“. That’s absolutely incorrect, because the rule specifically requires that it be embedded in its own pitch-mark.  

That is how I read it too and agree it is not embedded. I sounds like someone is trying to get around playing out of divots.

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Apparently, an argument can be made if you hit your ball down the fairway and it bounces several times and comes to rest in a soft sand-filled divot and makes a "pitch mark" in the sand (i.e. when the ball comes to rest and because the sand is soft, part of the lower part of the ball is below the surface) and technically may meet the definition of an embedded ball resting in its own pitch-mark after you've hit it.

I tend to think players will be filling in divots with way more sand than needed which will mess with mower blades?!

 

Perhaps a few rule geeks can comment on this🤓

 

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There is no definition of pitch mark.  I imagine most balls that end up in a sand filled divot rolled in, thus not creating a pitch mark.  If a player's ball is in a sand filled divot, with no indication of rolling there (i.e. no track), it is in the fairway and it lies in a depression AND the player asks for relief from an embedded ball, it is going to be hard to deny it.

It is hard to imagine that is the intent but that seems to be the way it is written.

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38 minutes ago, bkuehn1952 said:

If a player's ball is in a sand filled divot, with no indication of rolling there (i.e. no track), it is in the fairway and it lies in a depression AND the player asks for relief from an embedded ball, it is going to be hard to deny it.

I don't think it'll be hard to deny it. The only Interpretation sets a pretty high standard: 16.3a(2)/1 for example.

I understand what the OP is saying, and I'll ask at my rules seminar, but I'm doubtful that they've found a back-door way to allow relief from sand-filled divot holes. In previous years the soil had to be dented, too - it couldn't just be sitting in a little bit of sand.

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This all started when I asked a rules official recently in the UK about why the new rules did not give free relief for a ball falling into a fairway divot. The official replied that in his opinion, the new rules do give relief and claimed 16.3a does clearly give relief to a ball partially sunk in a dry fine-grained, sand-filled divot. The ball has to sink into the divot - resting on top of the sand isn't embedded.

He was also of the opinion that a ball wedged into the side of the hole is not considered to be holed out even though the ball is partially below the level of the green since the ball wouldn't fall in by itself if you carefully removed the flagstick. That seems to make sense. I think he makes a good argument on a ball embedded in a sand-filled divot. 

It is fun for old aging brains to think about these scenarios!

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I wouldn’t believe much that he tells you.

I don’t believe the ball is embedded is the soil. The soil itself, I believe, has to be “dented” basically.

I would rule no relief if I saw that. Unless it actually landed there after being hit or a first bounce or something.

@Asheville, @Rulesman?

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2 hours ago, BruceTeam said:

This all started when I asked a rules official recently in the UK about why the new rules did not give free relief for a ball falling into a fairway divot. The official replied that in his opinion, the new rules do give relief...

That statement makes me question the actual qualifications of the “rules official”...

A real RO could easily explain the simple reasons why relief from a divot couldn’t ever be allowed...

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On 2/8/2019 at 4:38 PM, David in FL said:

(2) Determining Whether Ball Is Embedded. A player’s ball is embedded only if:

  • It is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of the player’s previous stroke, and
  • Part of the ball is below the level of the ground.

 

Note, you don’t get relief just because the ball lies in a bit of sand and therefore part of it is below the level of the ground.  It ALSO has to be embedded in its own pitch-mark.  So sure, if it’s genuinely embedded, in its own pitch-mark, you get relief, regardless if it’s in a repaired divot or any other place in the general area.

Would like to see an official definition of "pitch mark", i.e. does the ball have to descend and not move from it's mark? Can a rolling ball make a pitch mark?

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19 hours ago, BruceTeam said:

Would like to see an official definition of "pitch mark", i.e. does the ball have to descend and not move from it's mark? Can a rolling ball make a pitch mark?

As far as I know they have never felt the need to define what a pitch mark is.  From the way it's used in the rules, it's obvious that a pitch mark is the depression in the the ground made by the impact of the ball when it lands after traveling some distance in the air.  We all know what a "pitch" is, so by extrapolation, it isn't difficult to grasp the concept that a "pitch mark" would be the mark created in the ground after making a pitch.  A ball may bounce out of the depression and then roll back into it and still be "embedded" under the rules.

The rules also do not define "shot", nor as far as I've been able to tell do they ever use that word.  We have to assume by the way it's used in the rules that a "pitch" is the result of any stroke that initially causes the ball to leave the ground and then travel for some distance through the air.  The depression it creates when hitting the ground is the pitch mark.  

The rule book states that the ball must have been airborne, creating the pitch mark when landing, to qualify as "embedded" under the rule.  A ball driven into the ground by topping the ball does not qualify for relief without penalty, nor is a ball considered to be "embedded" if it creates a depression when dropped under a rule. 

Therefore, just because your ball rolls into a sand filled divot, it has not created a pitch mark just by settling as it stops rolling.  

Edited by Fourputt

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On 2/9/2019 at 1:55 AM, BruceTeam said:

This all started when I asked a rules official recently in the UK about why the new rules did not give free relief for a ball falling into a fairway divot. The official replied that in his opinion, the new rules do give relief and claimed 16.3a does clearly give relief to a ball partially sunk in a dry fine-grained, sand-filled divot. The ball has to sink into the divot - resting on top of the sand isn't embedded.

He was also of the opinion that a ball wedged into the side of the hole is not considered to be holed out even though the ball is partially below the level of the green since the ball wouldn't fall in by itself if you carefully removed the flagstick. That seems to make sense. I think he makes a good argument on a ball embedded in a sand-filled divot. 

It is fun for old aging brains to think about these scenarios!

I would suggest that is is just a speculative opinion. To the best of my knowledge, few if any referees in the UK have been on any new workshops or rules schools. The R&A are busy educating everywhere else in the world except the home countries (and the USA of course).

The retraining is being delegated to each home countries' national authority.

My own opinion is that certainly the ball must land directly from a pitch shot, not have rolled into sand and caused a depression.. IMO the sand qualifies as ground.

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