Contest Winner And A Little Advice About Playing Golf With Alligators & Geese

Sweet Spot AX PutterFirst, thanks to all our members. The contest for the Sweet Spot Putter is now over and we have a winner. Jane B. ! We’ll be sending her the putter asap.

. . . . .

Second… a little advice about one of the more obscure rules of golf. Yesterday I played a 9 hole round of golf at my local club. We were behind a couple of guys who must have been playing golf for the first time—at least one of them was in the woods, the sand or the deep rough on almost every hole. Not only that, but they somehow got it into their heads that they shouldn’t tee off until the two guys in front of them were off the green. Duh?

In any case it made for a slow round of golf and plenty of time for my partners and I to chat. One of the women told us a story that had happened to one of her golfing buddies just a few weeks ago.

They were playing a round of golf at a course that had a lot of water and marshes and consequently, geese, who called the golf course “home.” On the fifth hole, her friend hit a great drive that landed on the fairway right in the middle of a flock of geese. In addition to the adult geese, there were several little “geeselings” – (I think the official term is goslings) that were just beginning to learn how to walk, squawk and fly.

Wild Geese

Each time her friend tried to get close to her ball the adult geese became extrememly nasty. If she persisted she was going to get attacked by a mother goose. So the question is: what are the rules when it’s impossible to play your ball when to do so your very life is in danger?

Before I answer that question, I have another story on the same theme, told by a second golfer who had a similar experience playing golf in Florida. She was playing a round of golf with some friends who had traveled to Florida from New England. It was their first time playing on a golf course that was home, not to geese, but to alligators. One of the guys hit his fairway wood to within 10 feet of what he thought was a very large “log” near the right rough. As he approached the “log” it moved! Without thinking, he continued moving towards the alligator.

“I’ll hit my ball. I’m sure I can outrun this old ‘gator,” he casually remarked to my friend.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Alligator’s can run pretty fast. You’ll lose a leg if he catches you. And the next time you run away, you’ll be even slower! It’s not worth the risk.”

Different geography, different wildlife, same scenario. So what’s the rule?

My friends all agree: you get a free drop at the nearest point of relief. – No penalty. I can’t find the actual rule # for this circumstance, but here is the definition of “nearest point of relief” which refers to an “immovable obstruction” (got this from the official USGA Rule Book) …. I think the geese and crocodile might qualify considering the circumstances.

Nearest Point of Relief
The “nearest point of relief” is the reference point for taking relief without penalty from interference by an immovableobstruction (Rule 24-2), an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1) or a wrong putting green (Rule 25-3).

It is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies:

(i) that is not nearer the hole, and

(ii) where, if the ball were so positioned, no interference by the condition from which relief is sought would exist for the stroke the player would have made from the original position if the condition were not there.

Note: In order to determine the nearest point of relief accurately, the player should use the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke.

So here’s a bit of advice. When it comes to mother geese protecting their young, or alligators protecting their territory, stay clear. Take the free drop without a penalty and play on.

By the way, if you happen to know the number of the official rule that handles encountering dangerous wildlife while playing golf, let me know by commenting below.

  6 comments for “Contest Winner And A Little Advice About Playing Golf With Alligators & Geese

  1. Brian Allman
    July 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Congratulations to Jane B. from your friends at Sweet Spot Golf… we hope the putter helps you to save some strokes from your score. Let’s see some pics with you and your new Ax…
    Also, big thanks to, one of our favorite golf blogs for sure.

    Everyone we wish you a fun and safe 4th of July Holiday.


    • Pat Mullaly
      July 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm

      Thanks Brian. Always appreciate your support!

  2. Jeanne Biggerstaff
    July 2, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I’m sure you’ve heard from many others by now. This issue is covered in a couple of Decisions related to Rule 1. There Decision 1-4/10 and 1-4/11. Basically, the player is allowed to take relief without penalty at the nearest point of relief. Here’s a link to the Decision on the USGA web site:

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