May 29 2011, 01:07 AM
This happened today. What would you have ruled?

The rules allow casual obstacles, like broken branches no longer attached to the tree, to be moved if the branch is interfering with a players stance.

Playing in a beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest today a drive landed in such a broken branch. The player moved the branch and made his upshot. Pretty routine right? Not exactly.

This branch was big. 20 feet long, 6 feet wide, and rose 3 feet off the ground. When the branch was moved it sort of rolled over on it's side. It now was 20 feet long, 3 feet wide, and rose 6 feet off the ground.

A player from a following group went ballistic and demanded the branch be returned to it's original position. The group declined, reasoning no casual obstacle has ever been returned to it's original position, and there is no rule requiring it to be returned.

I think both sides here had legitimate points but I agreed it wasn't necessary to return the branch to it's original position. I was in one of the 2 groups.

Would you have ruled differently and if so under which rule?

May 29 2011, 07:50 PM
Without checking the rules, I'd say it was played correctly. It might not feel quite right, but it was a casual obstacle and no one ever replaces the obstacle when done.

May 30 2011, 10:56 AM
If the branch is relocated to a position that could possibly hinder other player's drives from the TEE, is that fair? Instead of having a dead branch laying in a position that blocks shots less than 3 feet high, now the rest of the tournament players have to navigate an additional hazard that blocks 6 foot high shots.

The TD has an obligation to get the course as close to "tourny ready" as possible, and in most park courses that's do-able. In a forest, that obligation gets much more difficult. With nearly a million trees on the course property, there is no way any TD can remove all the dead and broken stuff. I believe in this situation, players need to consider the over-all scheme, and try their best not to re-arrange the obstacles that are going to be a factor. Sure, the player can follow the letter of the rule book and refuse to replace the relocated obstacle, but out of respect to the TD and the rest of the event participants, they should try to replace large,unattached obstacles to their original position (within reason, of course).

EDIT: I was in the group of the player who voiced his displeasure about the obstacle. He was a local player who plays the course very often since he works nearby. The branch got moved in such a manner that partially blocked his favorite route to the pin on that TEE shot. I don't believe he thought the relocation (or subsequent refusal to replace said obstacle) was done just to hinder him, he just wanted the course put back in it's regular state of play (the branch was VERY large, and had obviously been there for some time).

May 31 2011, 04:45 PM
This branch was big. 20 feet long, 6 feet wide, and rose 3 feet off the ground.

Ummm.... that doesn't sound very casual to me. It sounds like an integral part of the course that just happens to be a gigantic chunk or tree.

May 31 2011, 07:00 PM
I also first thought when I read this that perhaps the obstacle should not have been moved to begin with. Given the size, you would think either part of it was in front of the lie, or if it was all behind the lie that a stance was possible but perhaps not a run-up.

I have a hard time accepting that nearly any size obstacle that impedes a run up or alters a stance can be moved, but I see it often. But I'm not sure how to word a rule that would convey that you are allowed a stance, just not necessarily the exact stance or runup you want.

Patrick P
May 31 2011, 08:59 PM
This is how I would probably consider ruling:
First, we need clarification if this broken branch, which is fairly large, is considered part of the course. Considering it's size, I would say it is. We have "broken branches" on our home course which have been there for years, are much smaller in size, and are considered part of the course.

If this large broken branch is considered part of the course, then the player who originally moved it should receive a penalty throw in accordance with 803.05E. That player then must put the broken branch back to its original location.

If this broken branch just so happened to fall during the event or perhaps the night before, then technically the player could move it as it would not be part of the course. However, if the branch broke before the start of the round, and the TD was made aware, he could designate the broken branch as part of the course and thus not be moved during the event. This has happened at an event I played, where a large branch did break prior to the event, and the TD declared the broken branch now part of the course.

I'm not 100% certain of the following, but I do believe the player could of obtained casual relief if the branch fell during the event. I don't think you would get casual relief if the broken branch has been designated as part of the course.

May 31 2011, 11:50 PM
The change in the rules for casual obstacles provides an option not available last year. A broken branch in your stance or runup can be moved even if part of it is in front of the lie. However, if it's unreasonable to move it (heavy, cumbersome, time consuming), you are now allowed to move back on the line of play. This was not allowed before since a dead unattached branch that was partly in front of your lie last year, didn't qualify as a casual obstacle in the way that a dead branch behind your lie did.

So in this scenario, the player should preferably have moved back on the LOP rather than move the object. However, the rulebook doesn't directly address this where you might be looking for it. In the Introduction, it says: "Disc golf courses are normally laid out among wooded areas with diverse terrain to provide natural obstacles to the flight of the disc. These natural obstacles are very much a part of the game and must not be altered by the players in any way to decrease the difficulty of a hole."

The implication is that, given a choice where the course would be modified in a manner more than moving a small branch or twig on the ground out of the way, perhaps relief should be taken on the LOP. Of course, how big should a branch be before it should be left rather than moved? I'm thinking the RC may need to make this more specific in some manner or at least state that the group should make a judgment on whether the branch should be moved or the player take LOP relief. Unfortunately, the current wording in the rule indicates "first" an attempt must be made to move the object and maybe that wording needs to be reconsidered.

The Rule of Fairness (803.01F) could also be used to legislate this issue since this is an example where the rule doesn't directly cover it. Is it fair that the branch was moved in a way that significantly affected the flight path for the remaining players? I wouldn't think so.

I'm not a fan of the TD specifiying a "loose" object that normally qualifies for casual relief to be considered part of the course unless the plan is to actually permanently install it in that position after the event as a regular feature on the hole. Safety comes into play here which is partly why the casual rule is in place.

Jun 01 2011, 09:52 AM
Moving back on the LOP would have been a very bad option in this situation (at least from where I was watching the scenario unfold). The player would have had the downed branch right in his flight path, and large trees to both sides blocking hyzer/anhyzer routes. If it was my lie, I would have chosen to move the branch.

Jun 01 2011, 10:01 AM
Moving the branch back in its original position would have also been satisfactory after moving it for the throw.

Jun 01 2011, 12:34 PM
803.05 clearly says you can move casual obstacles like broken branches no longer attached to the tree. That is EXACTLY what was moved.

The rule of fairness obviously doesn't apply since that talks about situations not covered by other rules and this is explicitly covered by 803.05.

Objections seem to be about the size of the branch. 803.05 also allows motor vehicles to be moved. Does size matter here as well? Can you move a Miata but not a RV?

How exactly is a player to know if a branch is considered part of the course? What exactly does that mean? Will every player have this same understanding? Obviously not, especially out of town and state players.

What does moving the branch back achieve? If you argue that it returns the course back to it's original condition where do you draw that line? If you think you must move this branch back must you ALWAYS move casual obstacles back? Even the 3 foot long branch since the next player might hit the 3 foot branch and it impact their throw but wouldn't have hit it if it hadn't been moved? Some might say all broken branches should be removed. That's fine for a manicured course in a park but not a wooded mountain course.

Rhett when does a branch meets the definition of a casual obstacle in 803.05 stop being a casual obstacle and start being an integral part of the course?

803.05 also has the same problem with rocks. It allows me to move loose leaves and debris. I would think I could move a loose golf ball size rock. What about baseball sized? Softball? Volleyball? Basketball? Beach ball?

I know it's hard to write rules to cover every situation but I think this rule needs to be tightened up a bit.

Jun 01 2011, 01:44 PM
I've passed this issue on to the RC for discussion and likely adding a Q&A, although I think additional wording may also be helpful in the next rules update.

Jun 01 2011, 02:19 PM
Chuck, what is the deal with the Q&As these days?
Last I knew they werent a part of the rules but were guidelines that couldn't be upheld in tourney play. ( like Feldberg kneeling on a towel at the Memorial a few years ago which the q&As said was no good but was allowed)
I recall something saying they were being looked at to use as some kind of rules supplement.
Any updates?

Jun 01 2011, 02:34 PM
Conrad has completed the rewrite to condense them and they are being reviewed now. The Board may get them in time for their next meeting to seek approval for posting and becoming officially legal.

Jun 01 2011, 04:03 PM
Thank you

Jun 14 2011, 10:23 AM
Isn't moving the casual obstacle out of the fairway also an option that could have been taken? This would have solved the issue with the players lie and also have eliminated fairness issues for subsequent play.

Jun 14 2011, 01:53 PM
Sure, until a shot wide of the fairway hits the obstacle and goes further into the shule.
How big would the casual obstacle need to be in your opinion to merit it being replaced?