Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ask Linda #1139-NPR from GUR in rough is on fairway

Dear Linda,

If a ball is lying in GUR in the rough, just right of the fairway, is it permissible to move the ball into the fairway, IF that is the NEAREST point of relief?  Someone in my foursome, today, thought that it HAS to remain in the rough, even though there was no “nearest point of relief” in the rough.  Also, may you clean the ball AND must it be placed or dropped?

Thank you.
Lulu from Oceanside, CA

Dear Lulu,

Please pay close attention to this answer, as it will clear up a misunderstanding prevalent throughout the golfing world.

When your ball lies in ground under repair (GUR) through the green (“through the green” means anywhere on the golf course except all hazards and the teeing ground and the putting green of the hole you are playing), you are entitled to free relief. If you choose to take relief, you must drop your ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief (NPR) that is no closer to the hole, not in a hazard, and not on a putting green [Rule 25-1b (i)].

The Rules do not distinguish between “fairway” and “rough;” both fairway and rough are “through the green.” However, the Rules are very specific regarding the nearest point of relief. “Nearest” means “nearest,” period. If your ball lies in the rough, and the NPR is on the fairway, you must drop within one club-length of the NPR on the fairway, which may turn out to be on the fairway or in the rough [Decision 24-2b/8]. Conversely, if your ball lies in GUR in the fairway, and the NPR is in the rough, you must drop within one club-length of that NPR in the rough which, again, may turn out to be in the rough or on the fairway. This ruling also applies to relief from immovable obstructions.

The answers to your questions are:
1. If the NPR is on the fairway, you may drop on the fairway.
2. You may clean the ball.
3. You must drop the ball.

I suspect the confusion arises from players who compete in scrambles. Scrambles, which are not played under the Rules of Golf, generally prohibit players from improving their condition when they hit a ball. In other words, if the scramble rules allow players to hit subsequent shots within one club-length of where the ball landed, they will further require that players not use that club-length to move a ball from the rough to the fairway (or out from behind a tree, or out of a bunker, etc.).

Just remember that when you are playing under the Rules, you must strictly interpret “nearest point of relief.” Sometimes that will mean good luck, other times not. But “nearest” means “nearest;” the word is not open to interpretation.

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