Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ask Linda #1030-Relief for abnormal stroke

Right-handed golfer's ball lay one foot left of a cart path. Cart path on left of fairway.  (Desert rough to left.)  Only clear shot available is to stand on cart path and address ball left-handed (due to HUMONGOUS cactus on other side of ball).
Is right-handed golfer entitled to relief?  (Addressing THIS ball right-handed was not possible.)
Lou from Palmdale, California

Dear Lou,


A player is entitled to relief when an immovable obstruction (cart path, in your case) interferes with an abnormal stroke (a left-handed stroke for a right-handed player) when such a stroke is reasonable under the circumstances [Decision 24-2b/17]. So, for example, if a ball lay close to a boundary fence and the player could turn around and hit it left-handed, except that a water cooler would interfere with his backswing, he would be entitled to relief for that left-handed stroke. (Note that after the player takes relief, if it is now possible to hit the ball right-handed, he may do so.)

Let’s take a look at your scenario. An abnormal stroke (left-handed) is reasonable, but do you really want to take relief from the cart path? That will depend on where the nearest point of relief turns out to be. I’m guessing that the nearest point of relief (NPR) for a left-handed shot for a ball that lies one foot to the left of the cart path will be on the left side of the path, smack dab in the middle of that “humongous” cactus. Remember that in seeking the NPR, the player is limited to the point that is nearest to where your ball lies; that point may turn out to be in a virtually unplayable area or on a well-manicured fairway.

Assuming the NPR turns out to be in the cactus (the most likely result), you have two choices:
1. Take relief for an unplayable ball under Rule 28) all options include a one-stroke penalty).
2. Play the ball left-handed, standing on the cart path.

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