Rules Corner

Rules Blog: Look Before You Lift

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Toledo, Ohio – A cart path sits to the right of the 10th green at Inverness Club, site of the 2011 U.S. Senior Open Championship. If a player’s ball comes to rest on this cart path, he would be wise to consider where his relief would be before he lifts his ball.

Rule 24-2b states that a player who wants relief for interference from an immovable obstruction, such as a cart path, should determine the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole than where the ball lies and drop, within one club-length of that point, not nearer the hole.

The cart path to the right of the 10th sits alongside a very steep hillside. The nearest point of relief for a ball on this path would frequently be up the hill, one to two feet from the path. The entire area within one club-length of the nearest point of relief is very steep. A player who chose to take relief would end up with his front foot as much as a foot or two below his back foot and face a very difficult chip.

Therefore, he might decide that it is better to play the ball from the path than to take the relief available.

If the player had lifted his ball before making this determination and then wanted to change his mind, he would have a problem. In order to lift a ball, the player must be operating under a specific Rule such as Rule 24 that allows him to lift the ball. When the player changed his mind, Decision 18-2a/12 states that the permission to lift the ball was negated, and if he was to put the ball back on the path, he would incur a penalty stroke.

Furthermore, Decision 18-2a/12.5 says that if he decided, at this point, to deem the ball unplayable, he would have various options on how to proceed, some of which would result in a single penalty stroke under Rule 28, while others would also include the penalty under Rule 18-2a.

For this reason, you should always make sure you know where you are going to take relief before you lift your ball.

Written by John Van der Borght, manager of Rules Communications for the USGA. 


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