Golf Rule Explained: "My ball landed next to a snake. What should I do?"

Here's what to do when faced with a Dangerous Animal Condition on the golf course...

Golf Rule Explained:

We can't remember a week here at GolfMagic where we didn't receive a rules query from one of our readers in our inbox, and the story was no different this week - albeit one of the more peculiar ones we've ever heard as it involved a golf ball nestling up against a snake!

"GolfMagic please help me," said one of our readers. "So my ball ended up right next to a snake in the rough at the weekend. I had no idea what the correct rule was, and neither did my playing partners - we are all 18-handicap players and only really know the basic rules. It wasn't a match, just a friendly game with pals. So I left my ball where it was as did not want to disturb the snake, and I picked out a new ball and took free relief but well away from the area as to get right out of the way. What should have I done in this instance under the rules of golf?"

Golf Rule Explained:


Thanks for sending in your rules query. In this instance under Rule 16.2 - Dangerous Animal Condition - you are entitled to free relief as you have done at your nearest point of complete relief, but obviously not nearer the hole. It appears as though you have acted accordingly, it just depends what you mean when you say "well away from the area". 

To give you a clearer picture on the rule, take a closer look at what the R&A says on Rule 16.2:



16.2 - Dangerous Animal Condition

a - When Relief Is Allowed

A “dangerous animal condition” exists when a dangerous animal (such as poisonous snakes, stinging bees, alligators, fire ants or bears) near a ball could cause serious physical injury to the player if he or she had to play the ball as it lies.

A player may take relief under Rule 16.2b from interference by a dangerous animal condition no matter where his or her ball is on the course, except that relief is not allowed:

  • When playing the ball as it lies is clearly unreasonable because of something other than the dangerous animal condition (for example, when a player is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush), or
  • When interference exists only because the player chooses a club, type of stance or swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances.

b - Relief For Dangerous Animal Condition

When there is interference by a dangerous animal condition:

(1) When Ball Is Anywhere Except Penalty Area. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1bc or d, depending on whether the ball is in the general area, in a bunker or on the putting green.

(2) When Ball Is in Penalty Area. The player may take free relief or penalty relief:

  • Free Relief: Playing from Inside Penalty Area. The player may take free relief under Rule 16.1bexcept that the nearest point of complete relief and the relief area must be in the penalty area.
  • Penalty Relief: Playing from Outside Penalty Area.
    • The player may take penalty relief under Rule 17.1d.
    • If there is interference by a dangerous animal condition where the ball would be played after taking this penalty relief outside the penalty area, the player may take further relief under (1) without additional penalty.

For purposes of this Rule, the nearest point of complete relief means the nearest point (not nearer the hole) where the dangerous animal condition does not exist.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 16.2: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a.

Sponsored Posts