No.53 Fallen Tree

Following strong winds a large branch fell from a mature tree. The greenkeeping staff had started sawing the branch into logs. A right-handed player's ball came to rest under the detached branch.

Question 1:

Under the Rules is the status of the branch...
a) A loose impediment?
b) Ground under repair?
c) A movable obstruction?

Question 2:

If the player decides to move the branch in order to play their ball as it lies are they permitted to enlist the help of their fellow competitors?

Question 3:

If the player chooses to take relief from the fallen branch...
a) Do they incur a penalty?
b) May they drop on the fairway (far) side of the branch?

Answer 1:
a) and b). The detached branch is a loose impediment but may also be treated as ground under repair.

Note: Ground under repair includes material piled for removal. The logs are a firm indication that the greenkeeper intends that the branch will be removed. The branch is a loose impediment as it is not fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or adhering to the ball.

Answer 2:
Yes. Decision 23-1/3.

Note: Spectators, caddies and fellow-competitors may all assist a player in removing a large loose impediment.

Answer 3:
a) No, there is no penalty in taking relief from ground under repair, Rule 25-1b.
b) No, the nearest point of relief for a right-handed player is obviously on the near side of the branch.

The player may only take relief from interference by the detached branches piled for removal, not any part of the tree that is still standing.


Question 4:
If a player is not able to move the branch, even with assistance, and the nearest point of relief option leaves them right behind a large tree, may they break off the twigs growing on the detached branch to clear their area of swing for a stroke under the tree?

Answer 4:

Decision 23-1/4:
Q. If part of a large branch which has fallen from a tree (and thus is a loose impediment) interferes with a player's swing, may the player break off the interfering part rather than move the whole branch?
A. Yes.

Another 'Rhodes Rules School' Q&A will follow next week,
Good golfing,
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