Stephen Curry has done it all on the basketball court, but the slam dunk that he experienced at the Web.com Ellie Mae Classic was a little different than he’s used to. Curry’s tee shot on the first hole of his Web.com Tour debut on Thursday found its way into the cup holder of a golf cart. Fortunately, the Rules didn’t require him to play the ball from there, but afforded him relief without penalty. In taking that relief, there were several Rules that came into play.
The golf cart that Curry’s ball came to rest in is classified as a movable obstruction. Rule 24-1 tells us that when a ball comes to rest in a movable obstruction, the ball is to be lifted and the obstruction removed. Since this occurred somewhere on the course other than the putting green, Curry was required to drop his ball as near as possible to the spot directly underneath where it had come to rest in the cup holder, which turned out to be a spot on a cart path, bringing us to the second segment of Curry’s situation.
Once Curry finished properly putting the ball into play under Rule 24-1, he had interference from the cart path, a condition classified as an immovable obstruction. A different part of the Obstructions Rule, Rule 24-2a, defines interference by an immovable obstruction as interference with the lie of the ball, or the player’s stance or area of intended swing. While he could have played the ball as it lay on the path, Curry did have interference from the cart path, and the Rules allowed him to find his nearest point of relief and drop the ball within one club-length of that point without penalty.
After going through the procedures as prescribed by the Rules, Curry proceeded to make bogey on his opening hole. He would go on to card a very respectable score of 4-over 74.
Ben Schade is a Rules of Golf Associate for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.