What are the rules of golf for an embedded golf ball?

The embedded golf ball is the scourge of winter golf, but what is the correct procedure?

Winter has begun to clasp its cold hands around much of Australia and while we don’t have the extreme winter weather like the rest of the world, it does make for some different golf course conditions.

As the rain sets in and low-lying fairways become wet, golf balls are more likely to become embedded into their own plug mark.

So what’s the ruling on golf balls embedded in the fairway? The new rules of golf now allow free relief from anywhere on the golf course, not just the fairway.

According to Rule 16-3 Embedded Ball, you get relief without penalty.

When a player’s ball is embedded in the general area and relief is allowed under Rule 16.3a, the player may take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):

  • Reference Point: The spot in the general area right behind where the ball is embedded.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length, but with these limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area:
    • Must be in the general area, and
    • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point.

The “general area” referred to is

“The area of the course that covers all of the course; except for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole they are playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole the player is playing.”

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