However, let us say that the Ruling Bodies decided that players should get relief from divot holes (it’s not going to happen!); what would have to be taken into account? A major difficulty would be defining what constitutes a divot hole. Here are some questions that would have to be considered and resolved by players during their round;
- Is there relief from all divot holes or should the depth of the hole be taken into account?
- Is there relief from old divot holes? E.g. should there be relief for a 2-weeks old divot hole that has not fully recovered?
- Is there relief for a ball that sits on a badly repaired divot hole, where only part of the divot had been replaced, or it had not been properly flattened?
- Is there relief from divot holes that have been filled with sand?
- Is there relief from areas where then the surface grass has been scraped away by the club, but there is little or no damage to the earth below?
- Is there relief for a ball that sits just in front, just behind, or just to the side of a divot hole, if it could possibly affect the player’s stroke?
- Is there relief for other imperfections in the playing surface, such as cracks in hard, dry earth, or tyre ruts made by course maintenance vehicles?
- Is there relief from divot holes in the rough, as well as those on the fairway?
- If relief is to be permitted, must the player place or drop their ball and within what distance from where it came to rest?
- Who decides whether relief is available, the player, the marker, or a majority of those playing in the group?
- Edit 20th February 2014: Several readers have suggested another valid reason why relief should not be permitted for divot holes on the fairway. If there was such a relief, it would probably act as a disincentive for players to follow the proper etiquette of replacing or repairing their own, or other players', divot holes during their rounds.
Q. May a Committee make a Local Rule providing relief without penalty from divot holes or repaired divot holes (e.g., holes that have been filled with sand and/or seed mix)?I’ll leave the final word to David Rickman, Director Of Rules at R&A, who when asked this question,
A. No. Such a Local Rule would modify Rule 13-1 and is not authorised.
“And just what is a divot? There'd be a big debate - it would go on and on.”responded with this telling comment;
“Exactly. The good shot that ends up in a bad lie - that frustrates people, we understand that. But the bad shot that ends up in a good lie is accepted more readily. It's all part of golf's challenge, and I think very good players can deal with it. I'd be astonished if there were any movement here as there's no sympathy within the Rules of Golf Committee for changing that fundamental principle.”Good golfing,
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