Falling Branches and Casual Water

My playing partners Thursday related to me a pretty scary story. It seems that during the wind and heavy rain storms of the previous week, a tree near the twelfth green/thirteenth tee fell on a cart, crushing it. Worse, one of the occupants was seriously injured and had to be taken to a hospital. I saw the remnants of the tree and it was pretty scary looking.

There’s a lesson to be learned here from another’s misfortune: when a storm hits, head for cover immediately. Golf is wonderful, but it’s not worth risking life and limb.

On a more humorous note, that same storm left a surprise “hazard” on the sixth. I hit a blind shot over a hill, and when I got to the crestline, was surprised to see a large pond fronting the green. I had fortunately hit the ball well beyond the water, but it was disconcerting nonetheless. My partners, regulars at the course assured me that it wasn’t some new design feature, but runoff from the previous week’s unprecedented precipitation. A little closer inspection showed that it already was half the size of its peak.

I left that hole wondering how the casual water rule would have worked there. The pond clearly was casual water, but if the ball was more than a few inches from the shore, it would have been completely out-of-sight. A lost ball likely located in casual water? That’s probably not in the rulings on the rules of golf.

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3 thoughts on “Falling Branches and Casual Water”

  1. Actually, the Rules & Decisions does address the issue.  A ball lost in casual water is handled just like taking relief from casual water.  The twist is that one takes relief from the spot where the ball entered the casual water (similar to using a spot where a ball enters a hazard).

    Of course, one must be certain or virtually certain that the ball has in fact been lost in the casual water.

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  2. I find many people interpret the “virtually certain” standard too harshly.  For example, one hits a shot over the hill.  Upon climbing the hill and looking where the ball’s trajectory was taking it, one finds a very large puddle.  There are neither hazards nearby nor other places one might reasonable expect the ball to have gone. If there is no other reasonable place the ball could be other than the puddle, in my opinion I would be virtually certain the ball was in the puddle.  True, I did not see it go into the puddle but as Sherlock Holmes always said, once you eliminate all other possibilities, you have the answer, no matter how unlikely.

    On the other hand, if there is a large patch of dense grass near the puddle (or some other area which one might reasonably assume the ball could be lost), then one should proceed with the “lost ball” rule after looking for 5 minutes.

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