Environmentally-Sensitive Area; Play Prohibited; Defined as Ground Under Repair. RoG Appendix 1 Part B 2b; Decision 33-8/41(a) and Decision 33-8/44.5. Local Rule. Revised 2014-11-28.
In depth: From RoG Appendix I Part B 2b: Environmentally-Sensitive Areas (ESA): "If an appropriate authority (i.e. a Government Agency or the like) prohibits entry into and/or play from an area on or adjoining the course for environmental reasons, the Committee should make a Local Rule clarifying the relief procedure.  The Committee has some discretion in terms of whether the area is defined as ground under repair, a water hazard or out of bounds. However, it may not simply define the area to be a water hazard if it does not meet the Definition of a "Water Hazard" and it should be attempt to preserve the character of the hole.
Note: The Committee itself may not declare an area to be environmentally-sensitive."
From Decision 33-8/41(a): "A small area of rare plants close to a putting green has been declared an ESA. The Committee may define the area as ground under repair or out of bounds, but it may not be defined as a water hazard or lateral water hazard. In view of the areas proximity to a putting green, it should not be defined as out of bounds because a stroke-and-distance penalty would be unduly harsh. It would be more appropriate to define the area as ground under repair."  
From Decision 33-8/44.5: "Even if a ball lies outside an ESA which has been defined as ground under repair, the player must take relief, without penalty, if the players backswing is interfered with by a branch of a tree or bush rooted within the ESA but overhangs ground outside the ESA. To avoid such situations, it is recommended that, where possible, the Committee define the margins of an ESA so that any overhanging branches are within the ESA."

The Committee may, in a Club Regulation, - Click to link - deny players entry into an environmentally-sensitive area - Click for photo

For more information on environmentally-sensitive areas see "How to Mark a Golf Course" - Click to link

Suggested wording. This Local Rule shall always stand under its own headline. If the redcoloured parts (b) and/or (c) are not to be used they, and the words (b) and/or (c)  in the Exception, may be removed.

Environmentally-Sensitive Area; Play Prohibited; Defined as Ground Under Repair 
The environmentally-sensitive area (ESA) on hole ... which margin is defined by blue stakes with a green top is as ground under repair from which play is prohibited. If a ball lies in or touches the area the player must, without penalty, take relief under Rule 25-1b.
If it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the ESA the player may take relief, without penalty, under Rule 25-1c.  
Interference by the ESA also occurs when the ESA interferes with the players stance or the area of his intended swing. If interference exists, the player must take relief as follows:
(a) If the ball lies through the green, the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies must be determined that (a) is not nearer the hole, (b) avoids interference by the ESA and (c) is not on in a hazard or on a putting green. The player must lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of the point so determined on a part of the course that fulfils (a), (b) and (c) above.
The ball may be cleaned when lifted under this Rule.
Exception: A player may not take relief under clause (a), (b) and/or (c) of this Rule if (a) it is clearly unreasonable for him to make a stroke because interference by anything other than the ESA or (b) interference by the ESA would occur only through the use of an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play.

(b) If the ball is in a hazard, the player must lift the ball and drop it either: (i) Without penalty, in the hazard, as near as possible to the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole, on a part of the course that provides complete relief from the ESA; or (ii) Under penalty of one stroke, outside the hazard, keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the hazard the ball may be dropped. Additionally, the player may proceed under Rule 26 or 28 if applicable.

(c) If the ball lies on the putting green, the player must lift the ball and place it, without penalty, in the nearest position to where it lay that affords complete relief from the ESA, but not nearer the hole or in a hazard
Penalty: Match play - Loss of hole; Stroke play - Two strokes. In case of a serious breach of this Rule, the Committee may impose a penalty of disqualification.
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2014-11-28 18:59