GUI and R&A Information
We would also like to share a recent correspondence member, Andrew Macaulay, had with the R&A. Andrew wrote to the Royal & Ancient Club, suggesting that they consider introducing a rule that allows a free drop from divots on the fairway . We thought it was worth sharing especially coming directly from the R&A.
This is the reply Andrew received:
The issue of relief from divots on the course is one which has been considered at great length, especially as the considerable improvement of course conditioning over the years has given rise to more players feeling an entitlement to a lie which matches the quality of the shot played. However, although the frustration is understandable, it is important to consider that one of the fundamental principles of the game of Golf is that the ball should be played as it lies.
Divots are prevalent on all courses, and while it is again understandable that golfers would wish to take relief without penalty from them, essentially they are not abnormal ground conditions. To implement any Rule change which would facilitate free relief from divot holes would throw up numerous foreseeable problems ranging from actually distinguishing what constitutes a divot, to players having to judge what may be a divot from other damage to the course, and to what extent a divot should need to interfere before a player may take relief etc.
Moreover, after lengthy consideration, it was concluded that if relief was to be permitted from divot holes, there is a strong possibility that the player taking relief will create another divot in playing the stroke from the new location. The number of divots and potential bad lies then consequently increases, rather than decreases, which leads in turn to an increased chance of players finding themselves in divots as well as creating an increase in required course maintenance. So whilst it is appreciated from the golfer’s point of view that a good lie is the priority, permitting relief could actually increase the initial problem rather than helping it, whilst also putting an additional strain on the maintenance of the course.
It cannot be avoided that it is a fundamental principle that you have to accept good and bad lies as part of the game. The good shot that ends up in a bad lie or divot frustrates people, but the bad shot that ends up in a good lie is accepted more readily. It is all part of golf’s unique challenge. Because of this, there is currently no intention to change that fundamental principle, though if divots are seriously interfering with the proper playing of the game, it should be noted that the Committee has the option to identify any such area and mark it as ground under repair for the time it takes to repair.
I trust this information is of assistance.