How do the Rules of Golf deal with this one? Our expert takes a look

I’ve been saving this for a special occasion. Many thanks to Tuppence Hale who emailed me this incredible picture of her ball lodged in a huge fissure in a bunker. It was back in mid-summer when the rains came down and were washing out traps all over Britain.

Her opponent suggested she should play it as it lies. Now that we’re suffering similar deluges, I thought it worth wheeling it out and asking the question: what do we do with this?

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says

A few days before my club championship, I had this exact situation – with washed out areas of bunkers across the course after the heavens dumped another load of H2O.

You’re going to think this is ground under repair by default, but you’d be mistaken. This is not the case with washouts.

However, before you all send out a collective cry of anguish and declare an unplayable, or try and hack it free, committees can grant relief and treat washout areas as GUR if a player has interference and asks on a situational basis.

That’s if they’ve not already been on the ball and seen what’s coming. Model Local Rule F-1 also allows committees to define abnormal course conditions on the course and adopt a procedure to give relief.

A little nugget in the committee procedures section at the back of the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf puts together some succinct examples of the options available.

One of these would do the trick nicely: “Areas in bunkers where sand has been removed by the movement of water resulting in deep furrows through the sand are ground under repair.”

So what now? Just ask, or, if this paperwork’s in place, you can take relief from the abnormal course condition under Rule 16.1c.

Remember, the nearest point of complete relief, and the relief area, has to be in the bunker.

If you can’t find that, you could use the point of maximum available relief in the bunker as the reference point, or you could take back-on-the-line relief, outside the bunker, for one penalty stroke.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

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.

If you’ve sent me an email and are yet to hear back from me, I will try to answer your query. I’m still inundated with requests and trying to get through them.

Just to reiterate, I continue to receive emails from players hoping I can intervene in a club rules dispute. For fairly obvious reasons, I can’t do that and would direct those players either to their county or to the rules department at the R&A for a definitive judgement.

Click here for the full Rules of Golf explained archive and details of how to submit a question to our expert.

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