Question: - My golf ball lands on a path made of bark chippings (e.g. the start of the path to the left of the 16th green). Do I get a free drop?
Answer: - Yes
Local Rules state that: - All artificial surfaces and constructed paths and bridges within the course boundaries are Immovable Obstructions.
A road or path to which any foreign material, eg. concrete,tar.gravel,woodchips has been applied is artificially surfaced and thus an Immovable Obstruction (Rule 24/9).
1) Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction or when the obstruction interferes with the players stance or the area of his intended swing.
The ball does not have to lie in or on the obstruction. If the obstruction interferes with the players stance you can obtain relief under this rule. E.g. if the ball the is not on the path but you have to stand on the path (even with one foot) you can still obtain relief.
2) If the ball lies through the green the player may lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the "nearest point of relief". The "nearest point of relief" must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When the ball is dropped within one club-length of the nearest point of relief the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the "immovable obstruction" and is not in a hazard or on the putting green.
The measurement of one club length can be made with any club e.g.driver.
Definition of "Nearest Point Of Relief"
1) The "nearest point of relief" is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies, that
a) is not nearer the hole, and
b) where, if the ball were so positioned, no interference by the condition from which relief is sought would exist for the stroke the player would have made from the original position if the condition were not there.
Note: - In order to determine the "nearest point of relief" accurately, the player should use the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke.
Question: - When the player has dropped the ball under the above conditions can he decide to use a different club to one he simulated the stroke.
Answer: - Yes. A player can change his club (R&A Rules Decision).