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Loose Impediment in Hazard

Use this section to get an answer to your rules questions.

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Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby jmhenley » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:46 pm

Recently I was in a lateral hazard. The ball was playable but in deep wispy grass. I know that touching the grass is not considered grounding the club but one has to assume that there are some loose impediments down in there. Loose grass or small leaves for example. If you put your club down by the ball, above the ground and then take your swing and a little grass is seen coming up as you take your back swing would that be considered touching a loose impediment? What if the grass that comes up was attached but came off as you took your back swing? What if you can't tell the difference? Seems very subjective.
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby RJM » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:21 pm

Actually, the Rule is very clear - if you touch a loose impediment in a hazard with your club before the stroke (the downward movement of the club with the intention to strike at or move the ball, it's a breach of Rule 13-4 and a penalty is incurred.
The careful player would be very careful.

What do you see as "subjective"?
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby jmhenley » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:33 pm

I guess the subjective part is this:

There could be a loose piece of grass in amongst the grass attached to the ground. Short of getting down and pulling on each piece (which you can't do in a hazard anyway) you will not know. You take your swing and hit the ball. You MAY have touched a loose impediment but will all the grass there how can you be sure. Plus after your swing there will undoubtedly be loose impediments since you probably hacked some grass out on your down swing.

Also, what if your club, on the way back, clips a piece of grass that IS attached to the ground. However, it being grass and all, some of it tears away (think of something as simple as dandelion seeds) and is at that point loose. Are you now in breach since the grass is loose as attached to your club?
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby Doug » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:03 pm

See the Note to Rule 13-4. Although it is arguable that any broken off grass is now an LI, I would suggest the R&A have considered this and excluded it from the equation.
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby don » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:48 pm

I can see the point that JMHenley is making (Welcome to the Forum).
What if the player touches grass in a hazard at address, (allowed), but in the process touches an insect or a piece of broken off grass? Or being hyperbical (is that a word?) touches an amoeba, or some other micro organism.
This may seem daft but, it is no more silly than the old "swatting an insect in a bunker" dec.
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby Johanna » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:31 pm

@ jmhenley - if I were the referee I would tell you that there was no breach of a Rule. Late in summer there are always bits of fluff coming off easily with the back swing, or the lightest of breezes. When that happens the line of play has not materially improved. Just continue the swing and forward stroke.
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby RJM » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:39 pm

Johanna, with all due respect, improving the line of play is a 13-2 issue. Touching loose impediments in a hazard is covered in 13-4. If a player touches loose impediments in the hazard, while his ball is in the hazard, other than during a stroke, it's a breach of Rule 13-4.
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby charleskine » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:58 pm

Hi Don
Hyperbolical will do nicely
regards
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby Johanna » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:04 am

RJM, - what is the reason why a player should not touch, and thereby perhaps move, a loose impediments in a hazard on his backswing? Surely it has to do with improving the area of his intended swing in a hazard. If that weren't the reason, there's no point in having that Rule. In fact it is a Rule I wouldn't mind to see the back of.
But I should have said: "Improving the area of his intended swing".
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby RJM » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:19 am

IMHO, the probibition of touching loose impediments in a hazard, ie Rule 13-4, has nothing to do with improving the area of intended swing. If a player touches a loose impediment anywhere in the hazard (even 20 yards from the area of his intended swing) when his ball lies in the hazard, it is a breach of Rule 13-4 and a penalty is incurred. The area of the intended swing has no relevance to Rule 13-4.
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby JMC » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:04 pm

RJM – you may be right – however, don't forget D 13-4/13 and 13-4/13.5.
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby RJM » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:16 pm

Without those Decisions, a player would potentially be unable to enter the hazard to play his ball! Perhaps I was a little quick with my previous post.
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby Johanna » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:52 pm

JMC - thank you for pointing out those two Decisions. Another interesting reference is the point Richard Tufts makes in his book "The Principles behind the Rules of Golf" about the general reason for 2-stroke penalties!
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Re: Loose Impediment in Hazard

Postby marfo53 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:12 pm

jmhenley wrote:I guess the subjective part is this:

There could be a loose piece of grass in amongst the grass attached to the ground. Short of getting down and pulling on each piece (which you can't do in a hazard anyway) you will not know.


By definition grass that is fixed or growing is not a LI. If it looks fixed = standing up, looks fresh, not evidently loose, it should IMHO not be considered a LI.

jmhenley wrote:Also, what if your club, on the way back, clips a piece of grass that IS attached to the ground. However, it being grass and all, some of it tears away (think of something as simple as dandelion seeds) and is at that point loose. Are you now in breach since the grass is loose as attached to your club?


This aspect has more to do with improving the area of intended swing as Johanna says, so a dandelion that looses the seeds in the backswing does little to improve the area of intended swing, and if some grass is clipped or broken by the backswing (difficult for me to imagine) the test should be the same.

Nevertheless, the player could have gotten relief with 1PS under R26-1. If he wants to play from the LH he must carefully weight the pros and cons and make a decision. If he risks touching or moving a LI, I would tend to resolve a doubt against him.
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