You hit a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway only to find that you have to stand in a puddle of water to play your ball, or you hit your approach to the green just a little too long and it comes to rest on a cart path. It doesn’t feel fair to have to play your shot from these positions, so what can you do?
These are two examples of conditions that are often found on a golf course that are not normally meant to be part of the challenge of the sport. These types of conditions are known collectively as abnormal course conditions and also include; holes made by animals, areas marked as ground under repair, immovable obstructions (such as artificially surfaced cart paths) and temporary water (such as puddles).
As abnormal course conditions are not part of the challenge, the Rules of Golf give you the option to take free relief under Rule 16. This is one of the most frequently used Rules and one that is worth taking your time to understand.
Watch this animation as it explains more about abnormal conditions and when you are allowed to take free relief from them: