During the tournament in Mexico 2 weeks ago, Phil needed a ruling on 3 consecutive holes. I will try to explain one of those rulings.
During play of the 11th hole, Phil found his ball in a bush. The only way he could hit his ball was to hit it in a way that his feet would be touching a sprinkler head that was positioned in the bush. He asked for a ruling from a Rules Official. He explained to the official that the way he wanted to play the shot and the direction he wished to play the shot would had put him standing on an immovable obstruction. He was granted free relief, he picked up his ball and dropped it one club-length from a determined spot. His ball ended in a favorable spot and he played the next shot without any problem.
What rule are we talking about?
If a ball lies on an immovable obstruction or if the obstruction interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing, the player may get a relief without penalty. The only condition: The ball must be playable. Let’s take an example from a left handed player:
- The ball in a bush, the ball is unplayable for a left or right handed player but the immovable obstruction interferes with his stance, he will not receive a relief without penalty.
- The ball is in a bush, the ball is unplayable from a left handed player but could be played if the player was right handed and by playing as a right handed player, the obstruction would interfere with his stance. A rules official would probably grant him a free relief. After the relief, the ball could end up in a much easier spot to play from. At that time, the player may then play the ball left handed.
The direction the player chooses to play must not necessarily be the best way to make the shot but it must be reasonable in the circumstances. It is to the player to convince the official that it is reasonable.