18. Relief for an Embedded Ball
Current Rule: In certain circumstances, a player is allowed to take relief when his or her ball is embedded in its own pitch-mark:
Ø Rule 25-2 allows relief only when a ball is embedded in a closely-mown area (that is, an area cut to fairway height or less) that is through the green.
Ø But a Committee may adopt a Local Rule that extends this relief to a ball embedded anywhere through the green, whether or not in a closely-mown area (except when embedded in sand).
Ø In taking relief, the player must drop the original ball as near as possible to where it was embedded and not nearer the hole.
Proposed Rule: The current default position in the Rules will be reversed:
Ø New Rule 16.3 would allow relief for a ball embedded anywhere in the “general area” (that is, the area currently known as “through the green”), except when embedded in sand.
Ø But a Committee may adopt a Local Rule restricting relief to a ball embedded in those parts of the general area cut to fairway height or less.
Ø In taking relief, the player would drop the original ball or a substituted ball within 20 inches (50.8 centimetres) from (but not nearer the hole than) the point right behind the spot where the ball was embedded.
Reasons for Change:
Ø This is an appropriate exception to the principle of playing the ball as it lies because having to play a ball that is stuck in soft or wet ground (whether in the fairway or the rough) should not be considered part of the normal challenge of playing a course.
Ø Allowing relief throughout the general area is consistent with other relief Rules, which do not make distinctions based on the height of the grass in the general area.
Ø Many Committees throughout the world, from the professional and elite amateur levels to the typical club level, have adopted the current Local Rule.
Ø In many countries the Local Rule is sufficiently well established that golfers assume that the Rules always allow relief anywhere in the general area.
Ø Reversing the default position would help avoid the confusion that sometimes exists today when clubs or players do not realise that such relief is not allowed unless a Local Rule has been adopted.
Ø Basing the relief area on the reference point “right behind” the spot of the embedded ball would avoid the question of what to do when a dropped ball comes to rest in the same pitch-mark where it had been embedded; such a ball would always be re-dropped because it came to rest outside the relief area.