Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Embedded Ball - Rule 25-2

Regular readers will be aware that I play my golf in Ireland, where at this time of year we are often faced with balls that are embedded. So, I thought that it would be timely to explain when relief without penalty may be taken for an embedded ball and how that relief must be taken. The relevant Rule is 25-2.

When is a ball considered to be embedded?
It must be in its own pitch-mark with part of the ball below the level of the ground. However, the ball does not necessarily have to touch the soil to be considered embedded, e.g., grass or loose impediments may intervene between the ball and the soil (Decision 25-2/0.5).
Where is relief without penalty available for a ball that is embedded?
When the ball is embedded in any closely mown area through the green.
What is a closely mown area?
Any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.
Interestingly, the above reference is the only time that the word 'fairway' is mentioned in the Rules of Golf.

What relief is available?
An embedded ball in a closely mown area may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green.
What if the dropped ball embeds again on impact?
The player is entitled to drop the ball again, Decision 25-2/2.
What if the re-dropped ball embeds?
The player may, in equity (Rule 1-4), place the ball as near as possible to the spot where it embedded when re-dropped, but not nearer the hole, Decision 25-2/2.5.
Are grass banks or faces of bunkers considered to be closely mown areas?
Only if they are cut to fairway height or less, Decision 25-2/5.
If a player strikes their ball straight into a fairway bank, i.e., the ball is never airborne, is the player entitled to relief for an embedded ball?
No, relief is only available if a ball is embedded in its own pitch-mark, which implies that the ball has to be airborne after the stroke.
Is there ever free relief for a ball that is embedded in the rough?
Only if the Committee has made a Local Rule permitting relief for an embedded ball through the green, due to abnormal course conditions that warrant such relief. The relief has to specifically permit relief for an embedded ball through the green, for example, it is not sufficient for a notice to say ‘”Winter Rules in operation”.
(Edit: I have confirmed that the USGA invokes a Local Rule permitting relief without penalty for embedded balls 'through the green' in all their championships, which I am sure has contributed to the confusion on this subject from those that regularly watch these events on TV).

Wishing you good golfing in 2011, whatever the course conditions.

Barry Rhodes

• Author of the book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’
• Author and narrator of the CD, ’99 Golden Nuggets to Demystifying the Rules of Golf’
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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Barry, can one after marking, lifting and identifying one's embedded ball, correct the embedded ball mark prior to dropping the cleaned ball as near as possible to the embedded site. The dropped ball must first strike a part of the course through the green and no closer to the hole but if the ball should come to rest in a hazard or a water hazard or rough is that just "the rub of the green" . If the ball comes to rest in an area where relief is possible is this a new and independent issue.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Rule 13-2 states that a player must not improve or allow to be improved, the position or lie of his ball, the area of his intended stance or swing, his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole, or the area in which he is to drop or place a ball. Therefore, a pitch mark from an embedded ball may not be repaired unless it is to the side of the ball and in no way affects the player's stance, lie or swing. Of course, it may/should be repaired after the stroke is made.

If a dropped ball comes to rest in a hazard, or where relief may be taken under a different Rule, the drop is invalid and the ball must be re-dropped, Rule 20-2c. If the drop is valid and the ball comes to rest in rough, not nearer the hole, then the ball must be played from there.

Barry

courtgolf said...

Barry - is there any explanation of why a ball embedded in the rough doesn't count as an embedded ball with free relief ? (without the local rule, of course) The condition of the ball is still the same - at least partially below ground.

Barry Rhodes said...

Courtgolf,

I am not privy as to the reasons why the Ruling Bodies have decided that there is relief without penalty from an embedded ball only when it lies in a closely mown area. I suspect that it is for the same reason that they only permit mark, lift, clean and place on closely mown areas when 'preferred lies' are in operation. Perhaps they feel that the player should not be given any help when they have failed to keep their ball on the fairway.

The situation is confused by the fact that the USGA always invoke a Local Rule permitting relief for an embedded ball through the green in all their championships, which leads to a lot of confusion from those that follow these events on television.

Barry

Anonymous said...

What if your ball is embedded on a yellow staked water hazard line? Yes actually "on" the line...and due to a very poor job by the local club of marking the hazard line, we could not identify whether any part of the ball was actually inside the hazard line. By the way, the club officials had stated the local rule of lift, clean & place everywhere on the course due to heavy rains and flooding on the course. For arguments sake, let's say that it was determined that half the ball was in the hazard and half was not. What should I have done?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The line defining a water hazard is inside the water hazard (see Definition of Water Hazard). Because part of the ball was on the line it was inside the margin of the water hazard. Therefore, the embedded ball has to be played as it lies, notwithstanding that there was a Local Rule in operation permitting lift, clean and place, as this does not apply to balls in a water hazard.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry,

I just played in my club championship and my opponent hit his second ball, which became embedded, in the rough (not closely mowed). It could or could not have been from either my oppenent's cart or his spectator's cart driving on/over his ball and thereby embedding it when we went to look for his ball. The club pro ruled that he should have relief according to rule 25-2.

Your thoughts?

Thanks,

BH

Barry Rhodes said...

BH,

Please educate your Club Pro that there is no relief under Rule 25-2 for a ball that is embedded outside of a closely mown area. However, you should check whether there was a Local Rule in operation permitting relief from an embedded ball, as per the specimen in Appendix l, Part B, No.4.

If the ball was embedded because your opponent had run over it in his cart, he incurred a penalty of one stroke for causing his ball to move (Rule 18-2a). If he then dropped the ball instead of placing it where it was when he moved it, the penalty increased to loss of hole as soon as he played it from the wrong place. If the ball had been run over by a spectator's cart (an outside agency), he was entitled to replace it without penalty. Of course, the loss of hole penalty still applied if he dropped the ball and then played it, instead of replacing it. It pays to know the Rules!

Barry

tony said...

Barry, Re;opponent running over his own ball and embedding it,in order to replace the ball in it's original position the embedded mark would have to be repaired. Is this correct? Tony.

Barry Rhodes said...

Tony,

No, where the original lie of the ball has been altered through the green, the ball must be placed in the nearest lie most similar to the original lie that is not more than one club-length from the original lie, not nearer the hole and not in a hazard (Rule 20-3b(i)).

Barry