No.7 Relief From Ground Under Repair

a) A ball lies in tyre tracks that have obviously been made by a course maintenance vehicle. May this be considered a hole made by a greenkeeper and thus ground under repair (GUR)?
b) Are cracks in the earth, which can occur in hot and dry conditions, ground under repair?
c) Can a ball be lost in an area marked as GUR?
d) May a player play their ball that lies in GUR?
a) No, tyre tracks are not holes made by a greenkeeper. The Committee would be justified in declaring a deep rut to be ground under repair, but not shallow indentations made by greenkeeping equipment such as those in the photo, Decision 25/16.
b) No. However, a player whose ball is in a large crack would be justified in requesting the Committee to declare the crack to be ground under repair, and the Committee would be justified in doing so, Decision 25/12.
c) Not unless it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found lies in GUR. In this case, the player may take relief, without penalty, under Rule 25-1c, without having found their ball.
d) Yes, Rule 25-1b states that a player may take relief from interference by an abnormal ground condition. Therefore, players are permitted to make their stroke from GUR if they think that it is in a more favourable position than where they would have to drop their ball to take advantage of the relief afforded. However, be aware that the Committee may have introduced a Local Rule prohibiting playing out of GUR, so as to protect an area of the course.
Players often complain that they should be able to take relief from irregularities in the course, such as tyre tracks, cracks in the ground, divot holes or spike marks on the putting green. This is what the R&A has to say on this subject;

One of the main features of golf is that it tests the player's ability to execute a wide assortment of strokes under a variety of different conditions. The skill factor in golf would be greatly reduced if players could eliminate difficult conditions, without incurring any penalty, rather than have to overcome them through execution of a particular stroke. It is therefore, a traditional golfing maxim that you should play the ball as it lies and the course as you find it. This is encapsulated in Rule 13-1 which provides, "the ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules".

Another 'Rhodes Rules School' Q&A will follow next week,