What To Do When You Encounter A Dangerous Animal On The Golf Course

Rule 16.2 covers exactly what to do if you come face to face with a dangerous animal

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The best thing about golf is nature. Whether it's sunny, cloudy, cold or wet, golf will always be enjoyed. Whilst other sports restrict you to a court or a small piece of land, you freely roam hundreds of acres thanks to this beautiful game. Whether you're beside the ocean and its golden beaches, or navigating your way through the parklands, it comes with a level of risk. Ironically, nature itself.

In the event your ball rests near a "dangerous animal" and there is risk to physical injury then you are entitled to free (no penalty) relief. This will be carried out under Rule 16.2.  Now as you can expect, the R&A doesn't provide an exhaustive list of what is dangerous but the key thing to remember is the risk to injury. Examples would include, stinging bees, poisonous snakes, alligators, bears, and even fire ants (we see you, Bryson).

A player may take relief under Rule 16.2b no matter where the 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. For example, when a player is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies within a bush; or
  • When interference exists only because the player choses a club, type of stance/swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable to the circumstances. 

If the ball is within a penalty area then you are still entitled to free relief. The nearest point of relief however, must remain within the penalty area.

For the purposes of this Rule, the nearest point of relief means the nearest point, not nearer the hole, where the dangerous animal condition does not exist. Whilst this rule is designed to help you continue play, under no circumstances should you endanger yourself doing so. It's not wise to get up close and personal with a predatorial feline - Just ask Stephen Ames.

James Hibbitt
James Hibbitt

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – From tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with signed items from the likes of Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els and Johnny Miller. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite golf films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.