Golf Rules The Staked Tree conundrum

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The staked tree conundrum

This might sound like a silly question but when is a tree not a tree?

I am regularly asked, “I get relief from a staked tree, right?

Sometimes, in the world of Golf Rules, all trees are not created equal.

Let’s visit this question.

Under the USGA Rules of Golf we can, if we want to, take relief from a Movable Obstruction (Rule 24-1) and an Immovable Obstruction (Rule 24-2b). For example your ball lands right up against a bench which is a “Movable” obstruction if you are strong enough to move it or “Immovable” if you aren’t. It’s the usual story that I tell you…

Take one club length from the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole, where there is no interference and drop a ball. No penalty.

So, you are asking, just where does the tree fit in? Sadly trees are an integral part of the course, quietly growing bigger and bigger, getting more and more in your way, and no free relief. They are not Obstructions under the Rules of Golf, even if they are to you.

Now the stake…that is not an integral part of the course so, it’s an Obstruction under the Rules of Golf so, yippee, free relief. If it is a lateral hazard, red stake, or a water hazard, yellow stake you can yank it out, but a stake holding up a tree I’d leave it where it is and find your nearest point of relief, again no penalty.

So now let’s put the two together, the tree and the stake. Ok we always get relief from the stake but we said not the tree eh? Well here’s where the confusion lies.

Golf courses plant little trees which need protection until they grow into those huge trees that always get in your way. So the golf course may use a Local Rule, Appendix 1-3 “Protection of Young Trees”, until the tree no longer needs protection. This Local Rule must be posted in the Club or on the score card.

Your ball lands really close to such a staked tree…….. You are allowed relief only if the stroke you are intending to make would hit the tree. You must not use any unreasonable stroke to get relief, be honest. So if the swing you want to use would damage the protected tree, take free relief, and get free relief from the stake too.

So that would be the time I would answer “Yes! You do get relief from a staked tree.” This is when a tree is not always a tree under the Rules of Golf, but be sure there is a Local Rule in effect.

Hope this helps you.

Hilary

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