Snow As A Hazard

In spite of snowfall earlier in the week, temperatures in the forties and twenty-mile-an-hour winds. I’ve managed to play each of the last two days. For your friendly neighborhood golf blogger, any sunny spring day in Michigan is an excuse to get out on the course.

There were just four cars in the lot Wednesday, and the only other player I saw was on his way out.

“It’s only us crazies out here,” he quipped.

I quickly discovered why the sane had stayed home. I had to put my earmuffs on before leaving the lot, and after stopping at the pro shop, returned to the car for another layer of clothing. The air temperature wasn’t that bad; the wind was cutting.

My first tee shot was into the breeze, and what initially seemed like a good shot rose into the sky like a shuttle launch, then fell like a meteor. My second, a three wood, went just 170 yards, hit a hard spot and bounced right into a patch of snow under a large tree.

Fortunately, it came to rest on some “grass”, rather than in the snow itself. I pitched to the green, and three putted for a triple.

Two holes later, I wasn’t so lucky. Standing in the fairway, I could see a large patch of snow behind the green in the shade of a pine. I could have mistaken it for a sand trap if I was unfamiliar with the course. But the traps are a shade of municipal course brown. The snow is white as the sand at Augusta.

Just don’t hit it long, I thought.

So of course I did. My ball headed straight for the white stuff and made a visible plop as it landed.

I was unsure of what to do as I approached the green. Does a patch of snow constitute “standing water” under USGA rules? Did I have to play the ball as it lies? Or, under some obscure ruling, does a patch of snow constitute a “hazard,” preventing me from even grounding my club?

It would be just like the USGA to have some sort of ruling on snow that works against the mid handicapper.

Erring on the side of caution, I decided to play out of the “snow trap.” With my wedge, I splashed the ball out, spraing my front with wet slush. It plopped onto the edge of the green and made a few rotations toward the hole. Not a good effort.

Legend has it that the Eskimo have dozens of words for snow. I believe at that moment that I added a few of my own.

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2 thoughts on “Snow As A Hazard”

  1. I believe snow is treated as casual water and one gets full relief from swing and stance, except in a hazard or bunker.  In a bunker one gets relief within the bunker.  If the entire bunker is covered by casual water (or snow), the ubiquitous “committee” is typically supposed to declare the bunker as ground under repair AND the area as “through the green” to allow one full relief and a drop outside the bunker without penalty.

    As one of the crazies, I have become familiar with snow and the Rules of Golf.


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