If you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation, and wonder what your options are, it’s good to know that the rules of golf are your friend. Here in southwest Florida it is not unusual to come face to face with the question, “Do I get relief from an alligator?” Just as common as alligators, are the vicious and very aggressive fire ants. So, for us, this is not an unusual question.
Other parts of the world I am sure have their own unique dangerous situations. So what’s a golfer to do? The short answer is you do get relief, but how you take relief is not covered in the 34 rules of golf, this situation is actually covered in the Decisions Book, decision 1-4/10:
Q. A player’s ball comes to rest in a situation dangerous to the player, e.g., near a live rattlesnake or a bees’ nest. In equity (Rule 1-4), does the player have any options in addition to playing the ball as it lies or, if applicable, proceeding under Rule 26 or 28?
A.Yes. It is unreasonable to expect the player to play from such a dangerous situation and unfair to require the player to incur a penalty under Rule 26 (Water Hazards) or Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable), although these Rules remain an option, if applicable.
If the ball lay through the green, the player may, without penalty, drop a ball within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.
If the ball lay in a hazard, the player may drop a ball, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous. If possible, the ball must be dropped in the same hazard and, if not possible, in a similar nearby hazard, but in either case not nearer the hole. If it is not possible for the player to drop the ball in a hazard, he may drop it, under penalty of one stroke, outside the hazard, keeping the point where the original ball lay between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped.
If the ball lay on the putting green, the player may, without penalty, place a ball at the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous and that is not in a hazard.
If interference by anything other than the dangerous situation makes the stroke clearly impracticable or if the situation would be dangerous only through the use of a clearly unreasonable stroke or an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing, or direction of play, the player may not take relief as prescribed above, but he is not precluded from proceeding under Rule 26 or 28 if applicable. (Revised)