Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ask Linda #1164-Player takes relief, stance still on cart path

I'm a high school golf coach, and I recently had a situation come up that I need some clarification on. One of my players had a lie with a ball on the edge of the cart path; she correctly identified that she got relief, but "incorrectly" took her drop.

While dropping, she never identified her nearest point of relief, but rather just measured a club length (her driver, not the club she would take the next shot with) from her ball no nearer the hole and dropped within that space. The ball actually landed not far from where it first lay, and the girl proceeded to hit her shot with her feet on the cart path anyhow (it was the kind of day where she didn’t care). I witnessed the event, but was too far away to correct her. A spectator later intimated to me that they believed she should have been penalized, but I'm unsure.

Though she never identified the nearest point of relief, when the ball was dropped it did land "within one club length" of that place, and no nearer the hole. However, rule 20-2c indicates that the ball must be re-dropped if it "rolls (it did not) and comes to rest in a position from which relief was taken under rule 24-2b." She did stand on the cart path to take her stroke after dropping, but the ball was far enough off the path that her swing was no longer impeded by it, and she could swing without hitting the path itself. Is she liable for a two-stroke penalty for breach of rule 20-2 or 24-2? Thanks in advance!

Dear Lou,

When a player chooses to take free relief from an immovable obstruction (in this case, a cart path), she must take complete relief. After the player dropped the ball, her stance was on the cart path. She did not obtain complete relief, and she is not permitted to play the ball. The player must re-drop. If she plays the ball while standing on the cart path, she will incur a two-stroke penalty [Rule 20-2c (v)].

The recommended procedure for finding relief is to find the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole, by taking your stance with the club you plan to use for your next shot, and then drop within one club-length of that spot. The player is not required to do all that measuring, provided the spot where she drops the ball meets the requirements of being within one club-length of the nearest point of relief that is no closer to the hole [Decision 24-2b/2]. I often eyeball the situation and drop the ball without going through the whole measurement rigmarole. However, in the case of a young player, you might want to encourage her to perform the actual measurements. Since her ball did not roll after she dropped it, it is clear that she did not drop it in the prescribed area.

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