When an Abnormal Course Condition interferes with a player’s lie, stance or swing in the general area, the player can play the ball as it lies or take free relief under Rule 16.1b.
To take free relief from an Abnormal Course Condition in the general area, a player must follow this procedure:
1) Establish the nearest point of complete relief, no closer to the hole, from the condition by taking a stance with the club that would be used to make a stroke from where the ball lies. It is recommended to place a tee at the nearest point of complete relief to use as the reference point.
2) Establish a one club-length relief area from the reference point, no closer to the hole and in the general area.
3) Drop a ball in the relief area from knee height. The ball must come to rest in the relief area.
The nearest point of complete relief and relief area MUST be in the same area of the course as the ball lies (i.e. in the general area) and the player must have complete relief from the condition in which they have taken relief.
It’s important to remember that the nearest point of complete relief is not always the nicest. Sometimes, that area may be in long grass or bushes.
For a visual explanation of this procedure, please click the video to watch Grant Moir (from the R&A) explain this procedure during his “Rules from the Garden” series.