Friday, December 13, 2013

Ask Linda #761-Drop gives line-of-sight relief

Linda…a few months back I submitted a question regarding relief from a permanent obstruction, specifically it is some sort of irrigation control box. Your answer was that one could take relief if the obstruction interfered with the stance or swing but not from “line of sight” interference. I understand all that, but something came up in a round today that requires a little more clarification. My ball came to rest directly behind this same obstruction. It interfered with both my stance and swing so I knew I was entitled to relief. Per your previous guidance I found my nearest relief directly behind the obstruction using a straight line between the original ball location and the pin. This still very much had the obstruction in the line of flight of the ball and I had determined all I could do is bump the ball back into the fairway. However, when I took my drop the ball bounced a few feet to the right and actually gave me a clear shot to the pin. I am pretty sure my drop was legal but the result of the fortunate bounce was that I effectively got “line of sight” relief. Can you please confirm/clarify if this was indeed the correct thing to do and that getting “line of sight relief” is OK if that is the way the dropped ball happens to bounce?

Lou from Texas 

Dear Lou,

Lou, I will answer your question first and then clear up an important point you seem to misunderstand.

If you drop a ball correctly, and it doesn’t roll any place it’s not supposed to (e.g., into or out of a hazard, onto a putting green, out of bounds, etc., see Rule 20-2c for a complete list), the drop is good and the ball is in play. If the immovable obstruction is no longer on your line of sight to the hole, that is your good fortune. Play on, and count your blessings.

On to the misunderstanding…
When an immovable obstruction interferes with your stance or the area of your intended swing, you are entitled to free relief within one club-length of the nearest point of relief (NPR) that is no closer to the hole. The NPR is not necessarily directly behind the obstruction. While you may not seek a point closer to the hole, you must find the nearest point that offers complete relief. That location may very well turn out to be off to one side or the other of the obstruction. There is no requirement that you march straight back from the object; indeed, the point straight back that provides complete relief may not be the nearest point of relief.

The Ask Linda column you reference talks about line-of-sight relief from an immovable obstruction. It explains that you are not entitled to free relief simply because an immovable obstruction interferes with a direct shot towards the green. For example, if your ball lies ten feet away from a water cooler that stands directly between you and the green, you do not get relief for line-of-sight interference. Relief from an immovable obstruction is only available when your ball lies so close to the object that it interferes with your stance or the area of your intended swing [Rule 24-2].

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