Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ask Linda #1423-What is meant by “interference to stance”

Hello Linda,
Can you clarify a definition please? A friend and I both read your answers each day, trying to improve our knowledge of the rules of golf, and occasionally test each other. But we are at odds with one another over the relief from a buggy path, or cart track in the USA.

We are not arguing over what happens when a ball is on the path, but rather when the ball is so close to the path, but still on the grass, that your stance comes into contact with the path.

We both understand the relief procedure when the ball is on the path, but disagree as to what constitutes interference to your stance as described in 24.2a.

I believe the rules to be giving relief if you cannot take a regular stance because of the immovable obstruction, and so, I maintain having one foot on the grass and the other on the path does not warrant relief. Your stance is normal. I agree that if the immovable object was a boulder or something similar, and you had to modify a normal stance, then relief would be fair enough.

My friend’s opinion is that being in contact with the path is interference with the stance. End of conversation.

I know I might not want to read the answer, but I do need to read the answer.

Many thanks, and love the daily lesson.
Lou from Wales, UK

Dear Lou,

If the player’s foot is on the cart path when he takes his normal stance, the cart path is interfering with his stance and he is entitled to free relief. What the player may not do is take an unnecessarily abnormal stance in order to claim relief from a situation where there would be no interference if he took his normal stance. For example, if the player’s normal stance did not contact the path, he could not claim relief by widening his stance to put his toe on the path. Your friend’s understanding is correct.

When a player chooses to take relief from an immovable obstruction under Rule 24-2, he must take complete relief. The “nearest point of relief” is the point on the course that is no closer to the hole where there is no interference to the player’s stance or area of intended swing [Definition of “Nearest Point of Relief”].

In the case of a cart path, if the player’s foot is still in contact with the path after he has dropped the ball, he has not taken complete relief and must re-drop [Rule 20-2c (v)]. Failure to re-drop when there is still interference results in a loss-of-hole penalty in match play or a two-stroke penalty in stroke play.

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