Originally Posted by Jim J
There's a large tree that has fallen and is laying in the fairway. It's dead and detached and has a lot of branches sticking up out of it.
Your disc is among all these branches and one is interfering with your stance, so you break it off.
B. Casual Obstacles to a Stance: A player may obtain relief only from the following obstacles that are in the stance or run-up area: casual water, loose leaves or debris, broken branches no longer connected to a tree, motor vehicles, harmful insects or animals, players' equipment, people, or any item or area specifically designated by the director before the round. The player must first attempt to remove the obstacle. If it is impractical to move the obstacle, the player's lie may be relocated to the nearest lie which is no closer to the hole, is on the line of play, and is not more than five meters from the original lie, as agreed to by a majority of the group or an official (unless greater casual relief is announced by the director).
Well.. an entire tree is not technically a 'broken branch no longer connected to a tree'.. however this really sounds more like the case of an occurrence just not really covered by the rules. If the downed tree is considered "part of the course", then breaking branches off of it would be course destruction.. but if the tree is just going to be removed soon anyway, treating the whole tree under the 'dead and detached' guideline seems reasonable too. In a sanctioned event, I think a TD would need to make a judgement call as to this..