Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ask Linda #223-Relief from grandstand


Please help me to understand what happened at Aronimink Golf Club at the AT&T National. On the 18th hole Daniel Chopra pulled it into the left rough where I was standing. He then hit a punch shot off the tree that went further left and almost into the porta-potties and behind the grandstand. He then marked his ball with a tee. Next he marked a spot from the flag to the edge of the grandstand, measured one club-length and marked again. He then marked one more club-length and dropped. I thought the rule is to first find the “nearest point of relief” and then drop one club-length from there. Do you know why he would get two club-lengths? Also, another thing that struck me as odd is that he did not show the other players what he was doing. He just yelled up to them and made a motion. Plus, I think it was OK but the question was raised why he got to use his “driver” instead of the eight iron he hit.

Thanks for your help. Our group of guys –and girls– likes to be aware of the rules.

Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

The rules are a little different for taking relief from a Temporary Immovable Obstruction (TIO). Many golfers are unfamiliar with the proper procedure for taking relief from a TIO, since few of us ever get the chance to play in tournaments where grandstands, TV towers, tents, scoreboards, concessions, etc. are present.

Here’s the scoop:

A player is entitled to relief if the TIO interferes with his stance or the area of his intended swing; or if the ball lies in, on, under, or behind the TIO. A player is entitled to line-of-sight relief if the TIO blocks his line of play to the hole; line-of-sight relief is never available to the golfer seeking relief from common immovable obstructions (paved cart paths, water coolers, electrical boxes, shelters, etc.). The theory here is that TIO’s are not normally found on a golf course, and in all fairness a player should have no interference from a TIO when he plays a shot.

Chopra’s ball, according to an eyewitness report (that would be yours), was lying behind the grandstand, so he was entitled to free relief for his stance, swing, and line of play. (Please note that I did not see this incident, and am relying completely on your account.)

Chopra had to find the closest spot to where his ball lay that was not nearer the hole that completely avoided interference by the grandstand. He would then drop his ball within one club-length of that spot [Appendix I, Rule 7, II and III].

From your narrative, it seems like Chopra found a spot that met the requirements of being no closer to the hole and was free of interference by the grandstand. He properly measured one club-length from that spot with his driver. (Players may use any club when the relief involves measuring one club-length. What may be confusing you is that when you are seeking relief from an immovable obstruction such as a cart path, you are entitled to stance plus a club-length. In establishing your stance, you use the club you would ordinarily use to hit the shot, which is not likely to be your driver. You are then required to drop within one club-length of that spot, and you may use any club to measure the one club-length.)

Now it gets tricky. Since I wasn’t there, I can only guess why he measured two club-lengths with his driver. Chopra may know that his stance with an 8-iron is the length of one driver. The first measurement he took with the driver would establish relief for his stance and swing, and the second measurement was for the additional club-length to which he was entitled

Technically, none of this measuring has to take place. As long as the area in which you drop your ball is the same area you would reach by doing all that stance-plus-club-length measuring, you are good to go.

There is no requirement that other players be summoned to observe your relief procedure. This holds for interference from common immovable obstructions (cart paths, water coolers, etc.) as well as TIO’s. You may be confusing this with the procedure for lifting and identifying a ball, where the lifting and replacing must be observed by another player [Rule 12-2].

Professional golfers playing in tournaments often seek the help of a rules official even when they are certain they are following the correct procedure; that way there is no question that they have proceeded according to rule.


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