How Do the Rules Handle Hurricane Damage?

The recent hurricane has left us with devastating effects to our lives and homes and we wish all of our friends the very best in their recovery efforts.

As golf courses re-open and life returns to some sense of normalcy, we face some challenges on the golf course. Uprooted trees, debris scattered about and the effects of flooding all contribute to problems facing Superintendents and maintenance staffs. Rule 25 can grant us free relief from all of these situations.

So how do we handle these problems? Let’s start where we usually start; the Definitions and particularly “ground under repair”.

"Ground under repair" is any part of the course so marked by order of the Committee or so declared by its authorized representative. All ground and any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing within the ground under repair are part of the ground under repair. Ground under repair includes material piled for removal and a hole made by a greenkeeper, even if not so marked. Grass cuttings and other material left on the course that have been abandoned and are not intended to be removed are not ground under repair unless so marked.

The first sentence tells us that the Committee (usually the Superintendent or the Head Professional) can declare any area to be ground under repair. That area need not be marked with paint or stakes, but can be described. For instance, a notice may be posted in the golf shop that states, “All fallen trees not yet removed are deemed to be ground under repair, even if not so marked”. 

Similarly, the third sentence of the definition tells us that “material piled for removal” such as debris left from the storm that the maintenance staff has gathered up is also ground under repair even if not marked.

Lastly, we also face flooded fairways and bunkers. Decision 25/2 tells us that “any overflow of water from a water hazard which is outside the margin of the hazard is casual water”.

Regardless of the situation, as long as your ball does not lie in a water hazard, you’ll be entitled to free relief under Rule 25 if you encounter any of these situations on the course.

Remember, knowing and following the Rules of Golf can assist you in avoiding unnecessary penalties and help you to enjoy this great game of golf even more.

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