Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ask Linda #1031-Boundary fence interferes with swing

Hi Linda,
Here is a constant question at our club. I think the answer lies somewhere in Rule 24 and the related decisions but I am not sure.

A boundary fence runs down the right side of the first hole, as does a paved cart path. There is a narrow strip of rough/grass/dirt, etc., between the fence and the path.

The width varies. When you get down near the hole, if the ball is close to the fence you may not be able to take a swing towards the green (which is to your left) because the fence is in the way.
I realize there is no relief from a boundary fence and I think the out of bounds takes precedence over the cart path if your feet happen to be on it (is that right)?

If you take an unplayable lie penalty the 2 club lengths will put you on the path and then you are entitled to free relief form the path - I think that is legal, correct?

However, it is also possible to face the fence and hit a shot down to the right of the green rather than towards the green with your feet on the cart path. Do you get free relief in that case?
Full relief from the path would put you on the fairway side of the path and then you can turn towards the green and take your shot.
Is that allowed?

Thanks for your input.
Lulu from New York and Florida

Dear Lulu,

You are correct in your understanding that there is no free relief from a boundary fence, and that the fence takes precedence over the cart path in your scenario.

When you are dealing with two hindrances, you must ask yourself which one is responsible for your inability to hit your shot. In your situation, it is clearly the fence, as it interferes with your backswing for a shot towards the hole. If you could remove the cart path, you would still be unable to swing, so the fence is the culprit.

If you decide that your ball is unplayable, and you choose the two-club-length relief for an unplayable ball under Rule 28 (don’t forget to include the one-stroke penalty), you must drop the ball on the cart path if that is where two club lengths takes you. If the ball remains on the path after the drop, you are now entitled to free relief from an immovable obstruction (nearest point of relief plus one club-length, no closer to the hole). You may not take relief from the cart path until after you drop the ball, as the ball might very well hit the cart path and bounce onto the grass. You do not have a reference point for taking relief from the cart path until after you drop the ball. Keep in mind that there are instances where you will have to re-drop (e.g., ball rolls closer to the hole than its original position, ball rolls into a position where you will once again have interference from the fence, etc. See Rule 20-2c for a complete list.).

If the player is able to take a full swing for a shot to the right of the green (the fence does not impede such a swing), and she would have to stand on the cart path to take that swing, she would be entitled to free relief from the cart path. The Rules allow relief for swinging in an abnormal direction when that direction is reasonable under the circumstances.

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