Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ask Linda 761a-Is there line-of-play relief from an immovable obstruction?

Hi Linda,

Can you please clarify this further (from Ask Linda #761-Drop gives line-of-sight relief):

"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."

What if the "point straight back" is nearer but you have a line-of-sight interference such that if you hit your ball "low" you might hit the obstruction (about 1 foot high) and the ball might ricochet back and hit you?

Lou from the Philippines

Dear Lou,

A player is entitled to free relief if his ball lies in or on an immovable obstruction (IO) or if the IO interferes with his stance or the area of his intended swing. Assuming you are not on a putting green, there is no relief if the IO interferes with your line of play [Rule 24-2a].

Let’s see if I can clarify this Rule with an example. Suppose your ball settles one foot behind a storage shed 175 yards from the hole. You determine that the nearest point of relief no closer to the hole is five feet directly behind the shed. You now have complete relief for your stance and the area of your intended swing, but the shed interferes with your line of play to the hole. If you aim at the hole, you risk hitting the shed; if you try to go over the shed, you will need a lofted club that will leave you well short of the hole.

In this situation, Lou, you have little choice but to hit your ball around the shed. You will most likely have to settle for a punch shot back out to the fairway. You are not entitled to relief for line of play.

Golfers are confused about this Rule because they see players on the professional tour marching to one side or another of a television tower or a grandstand to get line-of-sight relief to the hole. The reason they are entitled to this relief is because objects such as grandstands are Temporary Immovable Obstructions (TIO’s). Relief from TIO’s is explained in Local Rule #7 in Appendix I, Part B.

Objects such as tents, scoreboards, grandstands, television towers, etc., are obstructions that are not typically found on a golf course. Because the presence of such objects is unusual, players generally get relief under Local Rule for their stance, swing, and line of play. On the other hand, objects such as storage sheds, electrical boxes, water coolers, and benches are obstructions you may typically expect to encounter on a golf course. Because they are a normal occurrence, the Rules do not provide line-of-play relief from such obstructions for anyone, amateurs and professionals alike. Chances are that if your ball lies behind a water cooler you hit it off line (I have yet to see a cooler placed in the middle of a fairway). You have to expect to pay a small price for an errant shot. The Rules give you a chance to swing at the ball; it’s up to you to invent a shot that will get you out of trouble.  

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.