Rules of Engagement #1 - Rabbit Scratchings

One of the features we will be bringing you on a regular basis is a light hearted look into the often perplexing world of golf rules. Each and every one of us has been on the verge of a "breach of etiquette" at one time or another, with a debate amongst friends whilst trying to portray a lack of passion over the particular incident…"I am fairly sure that you only get one club length there" means in reality "There is a fiver on this and I don’t care if you are my father in law, I am taking you down….it’s one club length!"

Hopefully this feature will help in those instances, this feature, which has been inspired by a good close friend of who is affectionately known as "Rabbit scratching Dave"

With that in mind what better way to start this off than with those pesky burrowing animals.

Ok – So according to the R&A, a hole made by a burrowing animal, such as a Rabbit, mole, groundhogs, gophers or Salamander (was he not a bad guy from a Bond movie?) are considered an abnormal ground condition. Therefore under rule 25, if the ball lies in or touches the condition, or when the condition interferes with the players stance or the area of his intended swing, then the player may take relief.

So most people will get that and probably be puffing out their chest like a peacock thinking…."I know my rules, me" - but here is the exception to this rule that will stop a lot of golfers from internal whooping at the opportunity to improve our lie for the next shot, when you had almost resigned yourself to the fact you would be playing from a location more familiar on an episode of Ray Mears.

The exception to this rule is as follows…..A player may not take relief under this Rule if (a) interference by anything other than an abnormal ground condition makes the stroke clearly impracticable or (b) interference by an abnormal ground condition would occur only through use of a clearly unreasonable stroke or an unnecessarily abnormal stance , swing or direction of play.

Interpret this how you will, but what we think you can read from this is, (a) for example if there is a huge tree in the way of your next shot then this would be something other than the condition interfering with your shot…therefore no relief, or (b) if you have a wedge distance in but are pulling out ‘’The Big Dog’’ so that your feet just touch the condition then that would be considered an unreasonable stroke…therefore no relief

So…that will definitely whack a few shots back on to peoples scorecards I am certain…just one more thing to clear up

For those out their claiming Rabbit Scratchings at the slightest hint of Rabbit droppings….guess what? No dice! Rabbit droppings are considered loose impediments, as they are natural and not artificial, so you would have to treat them in the same way as twigs or leaves…. NO FREE RELIEF

A special note for our friend  "Rabbit scratching Dave" …. May your scorecards rest in peace