Rule of the Week
Oct 23, 2019

Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions)

Special thanks to Dave Saganski for the question leading to this week's topic.
 
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, 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.

If it is not physically possible to  drop  the ball in any part of the identified  relief area , the player is not allowed relief from the condition.
Nearest Point of Complete Relief/5 - Player Physically Unable to Determine Nearest Point of Complete Relief
If a player is physically unable to determine his or her  nearest point of complete relief , it must be estimated, and the  relief area  is then based on the estimated point.

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 .

The player must estimate the  nearest point of complete relief  and drop a ball in the identified  relief area .

If it is not physically possible to  drop  the ball in the identified  relief area , the player is not allowed relief under  Rule 16.1 .


If you have a question about the Rules of Golf email cstork@golfsk.org and we will answer your question in an upcoming week.

Happy golfing and remember the Rules of Golf matter!

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Authored by Brian Lee, Executive Director of Golf SK

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