A couple weeks ago when I was playing Stony Lick, the golfer I was with teed off on the 13th Hole and her ball went into the wooded area bordering the left side of the hole. She found her ball in the red stake penalty area but needed to take relief. There were only 2 options for relief in her situation.
Go back to the tee and re-hit her shot with a one stroke penalty, which she wanted to avoid doing because her tee shot was very long, or
Take lateral relief with a 1 stroke penalty, which is dropping within 2 club lengths from where her ball crossed the hazard line no closer to the hole.
She wanted to use option 2, but within the 2 club lengths, there were low hanging branches from the trees. She wanted relief from these branches, but that is not an option under the Rules of Golf. You do not get relief from trees and plant life on the course. Regardless of those branches, she only gets up to 2 club lengths for lateral relief, no closer to the hole. Her concern was if she took a drop under the branches, she might cause some leaves to fall when taking her practice swing or her actual swing and then have to take a 2 stroke penalty for improving the conditions affecting her stroke. Was her fear real or not under the rules of golf? Find out in this issue of The Golf Rules Review on "Golf Course Pruning and Other Rule Breakers While Taking Your Stance".
Also attached is a video on that shows some of the things your can and cannot do when taking your stance as well as a second video on
The Club Championship is coming up, so if you plan to play, I hope these rules help in penalty avoidance during the tournament.
The 2020 WWGA Golf Rules Guru