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Rules question - relief abuse?

Posted by manglin 
Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 04:25PM
Imagine my disc came to rest on the pine straw, by the tree, in this image.



Now read this rule from the 2013 pdga rules.

Quote
PDGA
803.01 Obstacles And Relief
B. Casual Obstacles to a Stance: A player may obtain relief only from the following obstacles that are on or behind the lie: casual water, loose leaves or debris, broken branches no longer connected to a tree, motor vehicles, harmful insects or animals, players' equipment, people, or any item or area specifically designated by the Director before the round. To obtain relief, the player must remove the obstacle if it is practical to do so. If it is impractical to move the obstacle, the player's lie may be relocated to the nearest lie which is no closer to the target, is on the line of play, and is not more than five meters from the original lie (unless greater casual relief is announced by the Director).


Now my question is if my disc was on that pine straw, what's to keep me from interpreting that as "loose leaves or debris" and take a relief? Which, by the way, could give me better footing and remove the tree from my line of play. This just seems like it could get abused a good bit. Any thoughts, ideas?
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 04:33PM
You may obtain relief in this example. Pine straw is "loose leaves" and therefore you may take relief without penalty.

Sometimes the rules work in your favor. Use your knowledge of the rules to your advantage.

THE RULES ORACLE HAS SPOKEN
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 04:34PM
" the player must remove the obstacle if it is practical to do so" I am pretty sure that you could easily remove the pine straw down to the dirt with your hands or feet. But if it is allowed I will be playing every wooded course a whole new way.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 04:35PM
Kernan Rules are the best.
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 04:44PM
Players who respect and appreciate a well-manicured course would not find it practical to move the pine straw in this example.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 05:46PM
Seems like a fair question to me.

The short answer might be that the pine straw is intended to be permanent. The picture evidences to me that it was put there on purpose as part of the course. No relief can be taken from a permanent obstacle unless it is "a large solid obstacle" that "prevents the player from taking a legal stance behind the marker" under 802.03 E. On a side note, I think use of the term "marker" was poor drafting since it is clear we don't have to use a marker. They could have just used "mark" and solved that problem. However I think that side note is irrelevant to this issue.

From the facts given I can't tell whether the tree would be the obstacle the player might want relief from. If the tree does prevent the stance then relief is allowed. If the tree does not prevent the stance then the question is whether the pine straw prevents the stance. It may be slippery due to being loose, but you can stand on it, so I don't understand how it could prevent the player from taking a legal stance. Unless it prevents stance, no relief.

I admit I am not sure the pine straw is an obstacle at all but even if it is an obstacle it is not an obstacle to stance. Since it is also permanent, no relief. If it were casual we would look at 803.01 B. I have an opinion about that too but it appears irrelevant.
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 06:44PM
Jazz, the pine straw is an obstacle. It is a casual obstacle as defined by Rule 803.01.B. Regardless of whether the pine straw is intended to be a permanent obstacle, Rule 803.01.B allows players to take relief.

The facts of this case are clear to most: the player is asking if relief can be taken from the pine straw, not the tree. Did you miss the original post?

"Now my question is if my disc was on that pine straw, what's to keep me from interpreting that as "loose leaves or debris" and take a relief?"---that was the original question, Jazz (italics mine).

Now while "mark" may be better than "marker" in rule 802.03.E, why not use the term "lie"?
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 07:00PM
This pine straw must be played in accordance with 803.01 A. It is "park equipment" because it is "considered to be part of the course". It is considered to be part of the course because it was deliberately put there in the making or re-making of the course. We know the placement was deliberate from the picture. Pine straw does not naturally appear so organized.

The real question is what happens if the player does remove (which I think means relocate) any of the pine straw or stand behind the mark more than 30 cm claiming it is casual obstacle relief. Is it a stance violation (802.04 E. & F. - 1st time warning and re-throw), an obstacle relief violation (803.01 D. - no warning, no re-throw, 1 stroke penalty) or just 1 stroke penalty optional relief under 803.02?
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 07:06PM
Discjazz Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This pine straw must be played in accordance with
> 803.01 A. It is "park equipment" because it is
> "considered to be part of the course". It is
> considered to be part of the course because it was
> deliberately put there in the making or re-making
> of the course. We know the placement was
> deliberate from the picture. Pine straw does not
> naturally appear so organized.

I have seen course rake leaves, walnuts, sticks, or anything else that falls out a tree, back around the tree to help prevent someone from breaking an ankle. So although it does not naturally appear so organized, it could be put there for other reason then course design.
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 07:20PM
Discjazz Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It may be slippery due
> to being loose, but you can stand on it, so I
> don't understand how it could prevent the player
> from taking a legal stance. Unless it prevents
> stance, no relief.
>
> I admit I am not sure the pine straw is an
> obstacle at all but even if it is an obstacle it
> is not an obstacle to stance. Since it is also
> permanent, no relief. If it were casual we would
> look at 803.01 B. I have an opinion about that
> too but it appears irrelevant.


Mr. Jazz, your posts tonight seem intended to fool and confuse the general disc golfing public, and therefore as a defender of the spirit of fair play and increased rules knowledge, I need to categorically state that the claim "unless it prevents stance, no relief," is indefatigably incorrect.

Rule 803.01.B defines what obstacles are casual. Players may take relief from casual obstacles, regardless of whether they prevent a stance. The rules prefer that the relief be to move the casual obstacle and take a stance on the playing surface where the obstacle was (and behind the lie). But the rules also allow relief directly behind the casual obstacle if it is "impractical" to move the obstacle.

Who decides if it is practical to move the casual obstacle?

Yes, who decides if it is practical to move the casual obstacle? While I know the answer, I'd like to invite the readers to pontificate at this time as to who decides. Hint: see rule 803.02.

Additionally your claim that the pine straw in question is park equipment is, to be blunt, quite ludicrous. The pine straw is not a permanent obstacle. Over time the pine straw will biodegrade, and be reduced to dust-size particles carried away by the southern winds.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/04/2013 07:24PM by Bluff Magee.
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 07:42PM
Discjazz Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
>
> The real question is what happens if the player
> does remove (which I think means relocate) any of
> the pine straw or stand behind the mark more than
> 30 cm claiming it is casual obstacle relief. Is
> it a stance violation (802.04 E. & F. - 1st time
> warning and re-throw), an obstacle relief
> violation (803.01 D. - no warning, no re-throw, 1
> stroke penalty) or just 1 stroke penalty optional
> relief under 803.02?

I'm glad you asked Mr. Discjazz. The answer is "none of the above". There is no penalty, provided that the player also follows rule 803.01.C:

Course equipment may always be restored to its proper working order, including the clearing of obstacles.


It doesn't matter if it takes more than 30 seconds to move or restore the obstacle, however, it should be obvious by now that the rules would prefer that the player take relief behind the neatly arranged pine straw, rather than waste time clearing and restoring it.

Does that answer your question Mr. Discjazz?
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 08:24PM
Good responses so far gentlemen. I may be "using" this rule every time I land on a leaf.

Continue the discussions...
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 08:41PM
Raking is also deliberate, therefore could be a re-make of the course. However there is no need to labor on that point for the original question because the picture shows this was not a mere raking of loose debris. I'll bet whoever put that pine straw there meant it to stay there and scraping it away could be considered damage to the course, a 2 stroke penalty.

As for the tree point, I don't know why Bluff questioned my reading. The original factual scenario does not give us direction of play and therefore it leaves open the possibility that the tree is within the lie.

As for the "marker" "mark" "lie' side note issue, I agree with Bluff that "lie" could have been used accurately but that would require more word changes.

Bluff claims relief from casual obstacles, regardless of whether they prevent a stance. I agree with that too but I still think there is no relief unless there is an obstacle "to a stance". 803.01 B. is entitled "Casual Obstacles to a Stance". The actual rule language that follows does not include the words "to a stance", but given the title, I think the "to a stance" language is at least implied as part of the rule. An obstacle on or within the lie would be an obstacle to a stance. That is good enough for casual obstacle relief but not for permanent obstacle relief. Please notice I did not use the word "prevent" in relation to causal obstacle relief (only in relation to permanent obstacle relief).

Bluff claims the pine straw is not a permanent obstacle because it is biodegradable. Wooden picnic tables are biodegradable too, yet "picnic tables" are specifically named as permanent obstacles in 803.01 A. Therefore I must reject the biodegradable test for permanency argument. I think the PDGA intended to let course designers and builders choose their own permanent obstacles, regardless of biology. This pine straw looks like a permanent feature of the course to me and it is not an obstacle preventing a legal stance.

Bluff also argues that "Rule 803.01.B defines what obstacles are casual". The rule does not literally say that. It merely states "Casual Obstacles to a Stance" from which relief may be had without penalty. 803.01 A. "No relief is granted from park equipment ... which is considered to be part of the course." applies to anything the designers and builders intended to be a part of the course.

I am not trying to "fool and confuse" and I am no oracular authority. I am presenting another point of view on a fair question based on actual rule language and common sense.

My advice is that when you see something like this picture on a course DO NOT REMOVE THE PINE STRAW. If it ain't legal to remove it then it ain't legal to play behind your lie on it without penalty either, unless it prevents a stance. Regarding any obstacle, the only time you can play behind your lie without penalty is when it is legal but not practical to remove it or when it prevents a stance.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/04/2013 08:45PM by Discjazz.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 10:24PM
Interesting dialog but Bluff has the best take on it. No question that pine straw qualifies a casual obstacle (leaf). No question that the nicely arranged pile should not be moved in the same way a brush pile full of unattached intertwined branches is typically not moved. But players get free relief behind it as a pile of casual obstacles that would be unreasonable to move.
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 04, 2013 10:46PM
Discjazz Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Bluff claims the pine straw is not a permanent
> obstacle because it is biodegradable. Wooden
> picnic tables are biodegradable too, yet "picnic
> tables" are specifically named as permanent
> obstacles in 803.01 A. Therefore I must reject
> the biodegradable test for permanency argument. I
> think the PDGA intended to let course designers
> and builders choose their own permanent obstacles,
> regardless of biology. This pine straw looks like
> a permanent feature of the course to me and it is
> not an obstacle preventing a legal stance.
>
> Bluff also argues that "Rule 803.01.B defines what
> obstacles are casual". The rule does not
> literally say that. It merely states "Casual
> Obstacles to a Stance" from which relief may be
> had without penalty. 803.01 A. "No relief is
> granted from park equipment ... which is
> considered to be part of the course." applies to
> anything the designers and builders intended to be
> a part of the course.
>

My objective is to provide the best possible interpretation of the rules given the information provided. In this case there was no declaration from the TD as to whether the pine straw is a permanent obstacle, so we must proceed under the default scenario as described by the rules, which is that relief may be taken from pine straw. You may question the biodegradable definition I provided, but I believe pine straw to be much faster at biodegrading than a picnic table, so much so that there is a discernible difference and that it should be obvious to anyone but Mr. Discjazz that pine straw, unless specifically declared otherwise by the TD, is a casual obstacle, while a wooden picnic table is considered a permanent obstacle.

Yes, permanent is a relative term.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 12:41AM
I really enjoyed this thread, informative and entertaining.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 02:13AM
Here's another picture to ponder. It has lots of leaves, "debris", and lots of trees. Since 803.01B allows me to move my lie back along the line of play, is it then okay to move my lie back - where my real motive is to avoid a tree between my lie and the target - because I'm on a leaf, I can move back a meter or two to get a better angle on my approach?


Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 06:21AM
The rule says if it impractical to move the casual obstacle, you are allowed to move on the line of play to the closest point behind the obstacle.

First, if you think that it's impractical in this new example, you are probably too dumb to be playing in a tournament.

Second, you are not allowed to move as far back as you want. You can only move to the back edge of the leaf you deem impractical to move, not as far as you want to circumvent the spirit of the rules.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 11:20AM
I agree it's better to play behind than the original pine straw circle than move the pine straw. It is only a 1 stroke penalty instead of 2.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 12:25PM
Mountains and molehills......

JABBA


it MUST be the plastic
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 12:25PM
It is not a penalty at all. Why do you not understand rule 803.01.B?
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 01:16PM
The word "stroke" is also not in the rule book.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 03:11PM
Ok cgkdisc but there is a difference between being picky to make sure the meaning is accurate and being picky just to be picky. Substitute "penalty throw" for my use of "stroke" and the meaning is undisputably the same.

Bluff I do understand 803.01.B., but I also understand 803.01 A. 803.01 A. prohibits relief from obstacles that are "park equipment ... considered to be part of the course". Thanks to Bluff for the 803.01 C. quote, I now have no doubt an obstacle can be park equipment. It reads "Course equipment ... including ... obstacles." It says "a part of the course" can be "restored" without penalty. It does not say a "part of the course" can be "removed" without penalty.

You are not allowed to just move course features around willy nilly to suit your playing preferences. You are required to play the course as it stands from where you landed except for 802.03 E., 803.01 B., penalty stroke relief and tee shots. If it is legal to play back it is legal to remove. 803.01 A. trumps 803.01 B. penalty-free relief in this pine circle scenario.

The park or TD could declare it casual or even OB (bluebonnet) under QA 1, but if they don't it is "part of the course" and you play from your lie derived from your mark derived from where you landed.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 03:52PM
Let's say you want to hold to your claim the mound of pine needles is immovable park equipment with no free relief. In this case, I could elect to take solid object relief back off of it on the line of play with no penalty similar to landing on a boulder. The lie ends up the same as taking casual relief with no penalty. If the pine straw area was essentially flat with the playing surface, it might seem more like a casual relief area and you would move back for that reason.
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 04:33PM
You summed it up pretty well there Discjazz, except that your claim that "803.01.A trumps 803.01.B" is inaccurate.

If one rule trumps the other, it could be said it is maybe 803.01.B that trumps 803.01.A.

803.01.B defines no less than 8 examples of casual obstacles, casual obstacles that players may always obtain relief from. Unless the TD has specifically announced that pine straw is course equipment on this course, the pine straw is not considered course equipment. One can not guess whether a particular straw or floral arrangement was intended to be course equipment. Since we can not conclude with 100% accuracy the intention of the course designer, as you admit, we must play by the default rule which allows players relief from a casual obstacle, e.g. loose leaves.

It is clearly the spirit of the rules that players should keep the course as clean and tidy as they found it. That is why I believe that the authors of the rules intended that relief can be granted from neatly manicured pine straw. Rule 803 is poorly, poorly worded, I agree. There is confusion caused by the use of "remove" and "move" as instructions on what to do about casual obstacles. It would be wise for Rule 803 to be rewritten to better define casual vs. permanent obstacles. But there should be no question that loose leaves (pine straw, the loose leaves of pine trees) are defined as casual obstacles, unless designated by the TD.


How many times can you look at the pine straw and not conclude it is "loose leaves"? Do you believe that each individual strand of straw was woven meticulously into place?
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 06:30PM
I think cgkdisc is now arguing 802.03 E. relief (large solid obstacle prevents the player from taking a legal stance behind the mark). The relief of this rule is clearly only available when the obstacle prevents a legal stance. Now all cgkdisc has to do is convince me no legal stance can be taken with a foot on the pine straw 30 cm lie and I will agree free relief is available. I'm looking at the picture and I think even my old decrepit self could put a foot on that pine straw and throw with no problem. That pine straw would not prevent me from taking a legal stance so I don't know why it would prevent anybody else.

I understand Bluff's 803.01.B. factual argument and agree stance prevention is not required under this rule. My problem with Bluff's argument is that this pine straw circle appears to me to be a "part of the course". It appears Bluff is actually not denying that this pine straw circle was deliberately placed on this course by its keepers. He is arguing that by rule (803.01 B.) loose leaves cannot be "part of the course" unless declared so. I am arguing that these presumably loose pine needles (fairly classified as leaves) are part of the course based on specific observation of this neatly arranged circle of them. They did not just fall or get blown there. They were put there by the course keepers. QA 1 would not read that a TD "may declare an area to be OB, or a casual obstacle" unless designed areas are by default "part of the course".

It seems my beef with Bluff's argument is over a question of law (rule), not a question of fact. The issue is which rule controls whether an obstacle is casual or not by default when two of the rules produce a different answer to that question. We should be able to apply the rules to the undisputed facts to determine the outcome. We cannot because the rules as written are fuzzy. The rules are legitimately subject to more than one interpretation. That may be about as far as we can go with it.
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 06:56PM
A solid object can be any object that would not be intended as a "playing surface" which is typically the ground or a location a person would be expected to walk upon. In this case, there's agreement we shouldn't be walking on the nicely groomed pine straw to get at the ground. So we have a solid object where we can't or shouldn't get at the playing surface and we get free relief. Or if you wish to call it a pile of casual obstacles we shouldn't move, we get free relief. Both interpretations end up the same place.

If the area around the tree was level with the ground and not filled with casual obstacles, say the tree was surrounded with 1" landscape stones, I would agree with your interpretation that no relief would be allowed without penalty unless the TD indicated relief must be taken to maintain the landscaping.
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 07:57PM
Mr. Discjazz, your defense is a formidable one, alas, the summary of the evidence is not on your side of the court.

Is the pine straw a casual obstacle, or is it "valuable foliage" as described in QA1? It's a trick question. It's both!

Mr. Discjazz, please re-read Q1: "How do I mark my lie when my disc lands in an area of the course that has sensitive, protected, endangered, dangerous, or valuable foliage?"

Mr. Discjazz, would you describe the pine straw as sensitive? It could be, I will grant you that. What is the procedure for marking the lie in "sensitive foliage"? A: Mark your lie in the standard fashion. Once you mark the lie it will be on the pine straw. While the pine straw has been groomed purposefully, in the end it is still a collection of loose leaves, as you agreed. Players are allowed under 801.03.B to obtain relief from loose leaves. There is no penalty for obtaining relief from a casual obstacle, no matter how well the casual obstacle is groomed.


Mr. Discjazz, would you describe the pine straw as protected, endangered, or dangerous? There is no sign indicating it is protected or endangered, and pine straw is certainly not dangerous unless you poke your eye with it. So let's say that part of QA1 has nothing to do with this ruling.


Mr. Discjazz, would you describe the pine straw as valuable foliage? It could be, I will grant you that. What is the procedure for marking the lie in "valuable foliage"? A: Mark your lie in the standard fashion. Once you mark the lie it will be on the pine straw. While the pine straw has been groomed purposefully, in the end it is still a collection of loose leaves, as you agreed. Players are allowed under 801.03.B to obtain relief from loose leaves. There is no penalty for obtaining relief from a casual obstacle, no matter how well the casual obstacle is groomed.


Mr. Discjazz, I have searched the rules and I see no rule defining loose leaves as park equipment. If you ask a park worker if pine straw is equipment, they would probably not agree. They might call it vegetation, decorative material, or mulch, but equipment? Thou doth stretcheth the meaning of the word equipment.

I do however see a rule that specifically names loose leaves as a casual obstacle (Rule 803.01.B again) from which players may obtain relief. That should be enough to those who wish to proceed. Groups are expected to keep up with the group in front of them; obtaining relief behind a casual obstacle rather than moving and replacing the obstacle will certainly speed up play. Arguing over the definition of park equipment, when loose leaves (no matter how well arranged) are defined in the rules as a casual obstacle could result in the group being warned and stroked for slow play. Is that what you are trying to accomplish Mr. Discjazz? I am certain the other members of the group would rather grant relief from loose leaves than be stroked for trying to locate in the rulebook that they are park equipment. Excessive time studying the rule book to no avail should be a violation of 3.2.A.


Mr. Discjazz, you have made an honorable presentation to the court, but the judgment is final. You have served well, but have lost based on a preponderance of the evidence. Kennedy is only wrong 10% of the time and this isn't one of them.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/05/2013 08:26PM by Bluff Magee.
Anonymous User
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 08:27PM
How many times can you look at the pine straw and not conclude it is "loose leaves"? Do you believe that each individual strand of straw was woven meticulously into place?
Re: Rules question - relief abuse?
February 05, 2013 08:45PM
Discjazz Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> On a side note, I think use of the term "marker"
> was poor drafting since it is clear we don't have
> to use a marker. They could have just used "mark"
> and solved that problem. However I think that
> side note is irrelevant to this issue.

How can you not use a marker other than on the tee or in a drop zone?

"Lie The spot on the playing surface behind the marker, upon which the player takes a stance in accordance with the rules. It is a line 30 centimeters in length extending back along the line of play from the rear edge of the marker disc. The lie for the first throw on a hole is the teeing area. A drop zone is also a lie."

I think you are confusing "Marker" with "Mini Marker Disc."

A "Marker" must be used, even if it is the thrown disc (with exceptions for tee box and drop zones).

This is something I've noted as I have seen an apparently very common practice of flipping the thrown disc over and stepping in the spot where the thrown disc was laying, a marking violation that can result in a penalty throw for each violation after a warning. I don't worry about the penalty, but have always wondered what possible benefit can be derived from that practice. Is the 22cm or so closer to the basket really going to help?

So would "using the rules to your advantage" include calling that violation on your opponents?
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