Thanks to all those readers who contributed to the discussion about the previous post. It also raised an extremely interesting (and controversial) topic, which will be dealt with in a future blog.
Well, here is the answer, and I am sure it will be debated long and loud, especially for one reason which will become clear.
The Rules are clear: there is no relief from the “overflow” or the badly worn areas to the side of the original path lines, apart from being able to move loose impediments from the area around where a ball lies. The problem is actually identifying the ORIGINAL path lines because over the years, the timber borders that were in place in some areas are no longer there, or have been covered over. You may think that the Match Committee could introduce a Local Rule providing relief, but this is not permissible. The Committee could mark these overflow areas as GUR, but that would be a huge task to mark those areas.
How, then should a player proceed if their ball is lying on the path but close to the edge and they are unsure if it is inside the original line of the path. I believe that the player and their marker should attempt to positively identify where the original line of the path was/is, and if they are not able to do this, there is no relief available.
As I mentioned above, it is the ORIGINAL line of the path that is integral to this discussion. However, the advice from Golf Queensland is that the Committee is able to change the line of the path, but how this could be done is problematic. The only solution as I see it would be to lay down timber borders and repair the paths in the most pressing areas; that is, where the problem seems to arise the most.
It is interesting to note that some courses make artificial paths and roads an integral part of the course and players have to play their ball from where it lies. Of course, a player may always take a penalty stroke. This might be OK on some of the paths at our course, but the paths which are composed of large pieces of gravel would not be very kind to your club face!