Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ask Linda #1502-Relief from cart path provides relief from boundary fence

Hi Linda,
On Sunday, in a stroke play competition, after my second shot, my ball lay on grass close to an out of bounds wall just beyond the green. The wall made a shot in the direction of the green impossible. I could play the ball sideways to take the ball away from the wall. In setting up for this shot my feet were on an artificial path that runs near to the wall. I declared my intention to play sideways and then take free relief from the path. I dropped my ball within one club length of the nearest point of relief for that direction of shot, no nearer the hole. After the drop both the ball and my feet were clear of the path for a shot in the original intended direction. I now, by changing direction of the shot, had a clear chip to the green but in this direction was again stood on the path. I played the ball with my feet on the path as I had a good lie for my ball and chipped close to the pin.

At this point one fellow competitor said that I was not entitled to the original free relief from the path as my ball had been unplayable to the green, because of the wall, and it was only by playing in an unusual direction that my feet were on the path. A second fellow competitor said that I may have got free relief for the path originally but I had not taken full relief as I was stood on the path for a shot and should be penalised.

I said that I had played correctly to the rules on both occasions as I was entitled to play sideways for the first shot to get away from the wall and, because I had then taken relief correctly, the fact that I could change direction of shot meant I then had the choice of taking or not taking relief from the path for that shot.

Both actually said "jokingly" that was I was doing was tantamount to cheating.

You can imagine the discussion in the clubhouse afterwards! which never resolved the issue.

Your view would be much appreciated.

Best wishes,
Lou from England

Dear Lou,

Under the circumstances you describe, a sideways stroke is not an unnecessarily abnormal direction to play. Thus, you are entitled to relief when your stance to hit the ball sideways is on the cart path [Rule 24-2b, Exception].

Your drop gave you complete relief for your planned sideways shot, so the ball was in play. After a drop, your circumstances may change (as they did for you), and you are entitled to change your mind about which direction to hit the ball. You had the option to take relief from the cart path for a shot towards the green, had you wished to do so.

Your procedure was not tantamount to cheating – it was smart. You used your knowledge of the Rules to your advantage. Your experience proves the point that a thorough knowledge of the Rules can save strokes.

Please read the following Decisions, and share them with your fellow competitors and all the “experts” in the clubhouse: 24-2b/17 (the circumstance most similar to yours), 24-2b/6 (which permits incidental relief from a boundary fence when a player takes relief from an immovable obstruction), and 24-2b/9.5 (an eye-opener that shows a progression of legal drops that greatly improve the player’s situation).

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