My golf ball is covered in animal dung

My golf ball is covered in animal dung

Nature been using those fairways and greens as its own personal toilet and it’s your ball that’s come out worse. Our expert outlines your options

Be at one with nature, they say. Getting out in that green space certainly does wonders for us – scientists can prove it. But being among animals also means they can have an interesting influence on your game, as Shirley Anders’ email explains.

“We have a lot of Canada geese on our course from around the beginning of September,” she explained. “They leave a lot of drops on the course.

“I understand the droppings are considered a loose impediment but if they adhere to the ball on the fairway, can we clean the ball or do we have to play it as it lies?”

Rules of Golf explained: Relief from animal dung

You’ve found your ball in the, well, you know. What can you do? Shirley is right that animal waste is a loose impediment.

So, you can remove droppings – in any way – while making sure the ball doesn’t move while you are doing so. If it does, it’s normally a one-shot penalty and you must replace the ball on its original spot as outlined by Rule 15.1a and 15.1b.

But animal waste is not a loose impediment if it is either “attached” or “sticking to the ball”. What now? Do you have to hit your shot with a goose’s digested dinner splattered all over it?

Usually, but not always. Let’s say that an entire flock has migrated to your club, and there are areas of the course that are covered in cr… [stop right now – Ed].

If there is a concern about the effect of animal dung on fair play, a committee can bring in a Local Rule – Model Local Rule F-12 – that gives a player the option of also treating dung as ground under repair.

In that case, and if you so thing, you’d be allowed free relief under Rule 16.1 from an abnormal course condition.

Remember, interference exists if your ball touches, or is in, or on, an abnormal course condition, if it physically interferes with your area of ​​intended stance or swing or, when your ball is on the green, if such a condition or on off the putting surface “intervenes on the line of play”.

The Local Rule needs to specify the type of dung from which relief would be given – the rule book gives the example of goose or dog.

It also allows, going back to the putting surface, the use of a greens switch or whip to remove it from the line of play.

In this instance, if removing it improved the line of play, “or other conditions affecting the stroke”, there would not be a penalty under Rule 8.1a.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s Level 3 rules exam with distinction, I’ll try to help by featuring the best in this column.

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