There's never a dull week on the European Tour, so here's how our Rules of Golf experts recommends you proceed if you find yourself in Callum Shinkwin's bizarre scenario

You don’t see this very often. It was the first round at the European Tour’s inaugural Cyprus Open and Callum Shinkwin, who would go on to win the tournament, launched another massive drive.

Only this time, it didn’t find the lush confines of fairway. No, it landed in someone’s discarded lunch bag.

Yes, that is how it was lying. How on earth do we sort this one out? Let’s get stuck in…

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

Yes, of course he gets a free drop. He’s not actually going to play out of a spring water can. But these are the Rules of Golf and so there is a certain process to go through.

Shift your attention to Rule 15.2: Movable Obstructions if you ever find your ball stuck in a lunch box, plastic bag, rake, towel – whatever it might be.

What is a movable obstruction? The rules say it is an obstruction that can be “moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course”.

Rule 15.2a says that, with a couple of exceptions, “without penalty, a player may remove a movable obstruction anywhere on or off the course and may do so in any way”.

In this case, the ball is actually in the movable obstruction and so, to take relief, you need to lift the ball, remove the obstruction, and then drop that ball or, indeed, another ball.

Your reference point for taking relief is the “estimated point right under where the ball was at rest, in or on the movable obstruction”. The relief area is then one club length from that point, no nearer to the hole and it must be in the same area of the course as the reference point.

So in Shinkwin’s case, he lifted his ball from the bag, removed the obstruction, and dropped in the relief area.

Then he made birdie…

Rules of Golf

What if the ball was next to the lunch bag and the ball moved as Shinkwin lifted the bag? In that case, there is no penalty and the ball must be placed on its original spot (estimate if you weren’t paying attention).

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Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

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