Go Bananas! February 11, 2016 | FAR HILLS, N.J.

A golf ball settling on a banana peel is an unfortunate break, but does not entitle the player to relief without penalty. (Metropolitan Golf Association/Jon Renza)

During the 2014 Penn State Rutherford Intercollegiate, Rutgers University golfer Jon Renza expected to find his ball in a familiar lie in the fairway after a drive down the center of the 12th hole of Penn State’s Blue Course. That is, until he spotted his ball as pictured above.

Hoping to be granted free relief from this unusual circumstance, Renza decided to play his original ball as it lay on the banana peel and played a second ball under Rule 3-3 with the banana peel removed. Perhaps the object would be considered an obstruction, which would permit Renza to take relief without penalty under Rule 24-1a.

Unfortunately for Renza, a fruit skin is a loose impediment – not an obstruction – according to Decision 23/4. While Rule 23-1 allows loose impediments to be removed without penalty, a player will incur a penalty of one stroke if in so doing the ball moves. Renza could not have moved the loose impediment without causing his ball to move and therefore his only penalty-free option was to play his ball as it lay. As a result, the Committee correctly ruled the score with the original ball, a bogey, to count for his score. With his other ball, the one he wished to count, he recorded a birdie. 

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