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ball moved by an animal

Get out of the way! This Local Rule can help you shift stubborn animals

Struggling with an animal near your ball? If you’re worried about moving it you’ll enjoy this Local Rule

 

Make a note of this one. One day, it might get you out of a tight spot.

When you play a sport in nature, it’s inevitable that, sometimes, those who live in the great outdoors will refuse to play ball.

Some animals are loose impediments – think spiders, worms, insects. You’re allowed to move them, in any way that you see fit, but if the ball moves while you’re doing it you get a one-shot penalty.

What, though, if an animal is not a loose impediment? What if it’s something sturdier altogether – like a stubborn squirrel, a grumpy goose, or – at some clubs I’ve been at – something even weightier like sheep or deer?

remove animal from golf ball

Golf removing animal from ball: How can the Rules of Golf help?

Model Local Rule – E-13 – seeks to address this. When an animal is touching or is near a player’s ball, you can try to shoo it away. If it causes the ball to move while you’re doing so, then it’s been moved by an outside influence (Rule 9.6) and you just replace it.

If whatever is causing the hold up is a bit more reluctant, though, you had an unpredictable choice before this rule was brought in during 2023. You could try and get rid of the animal and risk a one-shot penalty if you caused the ball to move. You could play it as lies – good luck trying to find a stance – or you could take penalty relief.

All pretty unsatisfactory options if you found yourself in a pickle.

But with this Local Rule, should your club implement it, you can remove the animal without fear of consequence (just don’t be rough!).

Here’s what it says:

“A player may remove an animal, other than those defined as a loose impediment, that is touching or near their ball without penalty and may do so in any way. If the player’s ball moves while they are removing the animal: There is no penalty, and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated).

It will be interesting to see what classifies as “near” – it might rather depend on the animal – but this feels like a sensible solution which may even find its way into the full Rules of Golf at the next revision in 2027.

Got a question for our expert?

Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 and 2023, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.

Have you ever had trouble removing an animal from your golf ball? Let me know by leaving a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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