Dr. Robin Farran teaches Advanced Rules at the Golf Academy and is widely regarded as one of the top USGA Rules Officials in the country. As a testament to what he knows about the Rules (and we don’t), each week Dr. Farran sends out an email featuring different Rules scenarios. This week’s installment involves nearest point of relief:
1. Player A’s ball lies close to a course boundary wall. Player A, believing that he is entitled to “free relief” from the wall, lifts his original ball and drops a substituted ball within one club-length of his nearest point of relief and plays the dropped ball.
**The boundary wall is not an obstruction – see the Definitions of “Out of Bounds” and “Obstructions.” Player A has moved his ball and did not replace the ball incurring a two-stroke penalty, the general penalty for a breach of Rule 18. See the Penalty Statement under Rule 18.
2. Player B’s ball lies on a cart path in a location where the nearest point of relief in the desert. Player B leaves his original ball on the path and drops a substituted ball on a nice spot on the grass side of the path. When reminded by a fellow-competitor that the nearest point of relief is in the desert and that “the ball” must be dropped, Player B picks up the substituted ball and plays the original ball from its location on the cart path.
**Player B dropped a substituted ball under an applicable Rule, Rule 24-2, and was permitted by Rule 20-6 to correct his error of the incorrect substitution. Player B, after lifting the substituted ball, is required to proceed correctly in taking relief from the obstruction. When Player B played the ball from the cart path, Player B incurred a two-stroke penalty for playing from a wrong place, a breach of Rule 24-2. See Decision 20-6/5.
3. Player C’s ball lies on a cart path between two large bushes. Player C lifts the ball and considers where he would drop the ball beyond the bushes in an open area. When reminded by a fellow competitor that the nearest point of relief is in the bush, Player C returns to the tee and replays from where the previous stroke was played.
**Rule 24-2 permits Player C to lift his ball from the cart path. Rule 27-1a permits a player to replay a stroke from where the player last played at any time. Player C incurred a one-stroke penalty under Rule 27-1a.