Golf Rule Review: Can You Take A Free Drop?

I recently came across this discussion in one of my LinkedIn Groups and thought I would ask your opinion.

Mole HillPGA Pro Sergio Garcia hooked his drive into the left rough, then he hit his second shot into the rough where it landed behind a huge tree. Sounds bad, right? Fortunately, the ball came to rest on “abnormal ground” thanks to a burrowing mole. So he got a free drop!!! I should have this luck. Whenever I play “military golf” — you know, hit left, then right, then left, then right…. I am not lucky enough to land on top of the path of a mole. (Sounds a little like the movie Caddyshack.

So how did Garcia get the free drop? Rule 25-1! (Note: this copy of Rule 25-1 and all underlined links are from USGA Rules Website.)

25-1. Abnormal Ground Conditions

 a. Interference

Interference by an abnormal ground condition occurs when a ball lies in or touches the condition or when the condition interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing. If the player’s ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs if an abnormal ground condition on the putting green intervenes on his line of putt. Otherwise, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, interference under this Rule.

Note: The Committee may make a Local Rule stating that interference by an abnormal ground condition with a player’s stance is deemed not to be, of itself, interference under this Rule.

 b. Relief

Except when the ball is in a water hazard or a lateral water hazard, a player may take relief from interference by an abnormal ground condition as follows:

(i)Through the Green: If the ball lies through the green, the player must lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When the ball is dropped within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the condition and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.

So lucky Mr. Garcia. If not for the burrowing mole, he certainly would have had a hard time getting around that tree! What’s your opinion? Do mole holes count as abnormal ground conditions? Some of the members of the LinkedIn group feel that you should have to play the ball as it lies, no exceptions!

i.e. Abandon the free drop rule. You play the course as you find it. What do you think?

  3 comments for “Golf Rule Review: Can You Take A Free Drop?

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