Written by Joyce McCann, 18ers Rules Chair.

First published in 2017. Updated to conform to the 2019 Rules.

So you thought you could take relief from a staked tree at Rossmoor – well, now you can! 

During a recent 18ers Thursday play day, a player found her ball behind a staked tree in the right rough on hole #13. How should she proceed? Does she get relief?

The first step is to know how the Rules designate a tree. Whether or not a tree is staked, it is just a part of the course that we have to try to avoid. Trees are not obstructions because only artificial things are obstructions (e.g., irrigation boxes, sprinkler heads). Happily, the stake and any protective fencing around the tree are immovable obstructions, and the rule that applies is Rule 16.1. [Relief can be taken from an immovable obstruction only if it interferes with the player’s stance or swing (NOT if it just interferes with the line of play). Relief is taken by finding the nearest point of relief no nearer the hole, and dropping the ball within 1 club length.]

In the case of staked trees, it is important to keep in mind that, unless a Local Rule has been adopted, relief can only be taken if the stake or protective fencing around the tree interfere with the player’s stance or swing, NOT if just the tree interferes. Many staked trees on our Rossmoor courses not only are staked, but are fully protected by fencing around the tree (e.g., hole #13). However, some trees (e.g., to the right of the green on hole #15) are staked, but with limited or no fencing.  The18ers adopted Model Local Rule E10 (Protection of Young Trees) in January 2021, which allows free relief under Rule 16.1b if you find yourself behind a staked tree with limited or no fencing. Prior to that adoption, relief could only be taken if the stake or fencing interfered with your stance or swing, not if the tree itself interfered

As it happened in the incident on #13 on Dollar that occurred in 2017, the stake and protective fencing around the tree blocked the line of play, but did not interfere directly with her stance or stroke. She therefore could not take relief and had to pitch out to the side.