Rules Guy: What happens if my golf ball rests on a pile of nuts?

June 18, 2019

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

My son was playing the final hole of a high school tournament when his ball came to rest on a small pile of nuts. It was unclear if the nuts were there naturally, maybe from an animal, or if the grounds crew had raked them into a small pile and neglected to pick them up. The ball wasn’t touching the ground at all, literally just resting on the nuts. Any relief? —Tony Stewart, New Castle, Ind.

The key issue is: Acorns? Almonds? Cashews? Joking aside, the question of whether the nuts should be considered ground under repair indeed boils down to how they got there. If they were massed by an animal, or by the grounds crew with no intention of removing them, the nuts are loose impediments and there is no relief. If the grounds crew piled the nuts and forgot to remove them, it is GUR and free relief permitted. Given the vague circumstances, one not-so-nutty idea would be: Play two balls, one from the original spot and the other after taking relief; select a ball to score with; and find the super after the round to get the lowdown on this squirrely situation.

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