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Applicable on Main and Northcliffe Course
Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions)
This Rule covers free relief that is allowed from interference by animal holes, ground under repair, immovable obstructions or temporary water:
These are collectively called abnormal course conditions, but each has a separate Definition.
This Rule does not give relief from movable obstructions (a different type of free relief is allowed under Rule 15.2a) or boundary objects or integral objects (no free relief is allowed).
When Relief Is Allowed
(1) Meaning of Interference by Abnormal Course Condition. Interference exists when any one of these is true:
The player’s ball touches or is in or on an abnormal course condition,
An abnormal course condition physically interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing, or
Only when the ball is on the putting green, an abnormal course condition on or off the putting green intervenes on the line of play.
If the abnormal course condition is close enough to distract the player but does not meet any of these requirements, there is no interference under this Rule.
DIAGRAM 16.1a: WHEN RELIEF IS ALLOWED FOR ABNORMAL COURSE CONDITION
The diagram assumes the player is right-handed. Free relief is allowed for interference by an abnormal course condition (ACC), including an immovable obstruction, when the ball touches or lies in or on the condition (B1), or the condition interferes with the area of intended stance (B2) or swing. The nearest point of complete relief for B1 is P1, and is very close to the condition. For B2, the nearest point of complete relief is P2, and is farther from the condition as the stance has to be clear of the ACC.
(2) Relief Allowed Anywhere on Course Except When Ball Is in Penalty Area. Relief from interference by an abnormal course condition is allowed under Rule 16.1 only when both:
The abnormal course condition is on the course (not out of bounds), and
The ball is anywhere on the course, except in a penalty area (where the player’s only relief is under Rule 17).
(3) No Relief When Clearly Unreasonable to Play Ball. There is no relief under Rule 16.1:
When playing the ball as it lies is clearly unreasonable because of something other than an abnormal course condition (such as, when a player is standing in temporary water or on an immovable obstruction but is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush), or
When interference exists only because a player chooses a club, type of stance or swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances.