Rule of the Month: Abnormal Course Conditions/Embedded Ball
April 5, 2022 / by Jerry Stewart
Certain conditions are not treated as part of the challenge of playing the course, so free relief is provided as an option. This includes interference from temporary water, ground under repair, animal holes, and immovable artificial objects (such as carts paths and sprinkler heads). All of these things are collectively known as abnormal course conditions. You get free relief when the condition interferes with your lie, stance, or area of intended swing. When an abnormal course condition only interferes with your line of play, free relief is not provided.
To take free relief, you first have to find the nearest point of complete relief, which is the spot on the course nearest to where your ball lies, but not nearer the hole, where you could play your next stroke with no interference from the condition you’re taking relief from. Then drop a ball within one club-length of that point not nearer the hole.
If your ball is stuck in the ground (embedded) anywhere except in a bunker or a penalty area, you get free relief. Your ball must be found to take free relief.