Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions)
Special thanks to Dave Saganski who sent his inquiry in to us.
QUESTION: My ball lies on a cart path (abnormal course condition) and I am entitled to relief. I have to take a stance on either side of the path to determine which side is my nearest point of relief but one side of the path is an area of the course that is impossible to take a stance in. (eg: thick shrubs, steep slope, large irregular rocks, etc.)
Does this mean I automatically drop on the side of the path where a stance is possible? Or do I deal with the consequences if the nearest point of relief from the cart path is in the bush even though I can’t take a stance there?
ANSWER: Unfortunately, Dave would have to play the ball as it lies or proceed under a different rule such as Rule 19 – Unplayable Ball. While the player is entitled to free relief, the Nearest Point of Complete Relief may not be the nicest point of relief.
In the diagram below, if the player’s ball lies at B1 (left handed player) the Nearest Point of Complete Relief is at P1. As it is not possible or very difficult to play, the option is to play the ball as it lies at B1 or proceed under another rule.
See the interpretation below for additional explanations.
Nearest Point of Complete Relief/4 – Player Determines Nearest Point of Complete Relief but Is Physically Unable to Make Intended Stroke
The purpose of determining the nearest point of complete relief is to find a reference point in a location that is as near as possible to where the interfering condition no longer interferes. In determining the nearest point of complete relief, the player is not guaranteed a good or playable lie.
For example, if a player is unable to make a stroke from what appears to be the required relief area as measured from the nearest point of complete relief because either the direction of play is blocked by a tree, or the player is unable to take the backswing for the intended stroke due to a bush, this does not change the fact that the identified point is the nearest point of complete relief.
After the ball is in play, the player must then decide what type of stroke he or she will make. This stroke, which includes the choice of club, may be different than the one that would have been made from the ball’s original spot had the condition not been there.
Nearest Point of Complete Relief/5 – Player Physically Unable to Determine Nearest Point of Complete Relief
For example, in taking relief under Rule 16.1, a player is physically unable to determine the nearest point of complete relief because that point is within the trunk of a tree or a boundary fence prevents the player from adopting the required stance.