Think you ALWAYS get free relief from a cart path? Think again…. There’s one twist you need to know about free relief from immovable obstructions.  

Rule 16.1a(3) states no relief when playing the ball as it lies is clearly unreasonable because of something other than the abnormal course condition.

In this video, I explain the nuances of what is considered a “reasonable stroke” with the help of golf rules official David Blake.

At first glance, I think I’m entitled to free relief from the cart path, but David Blake (aka Blakey) tells me I cannot take free relief in this situation. 


Rule 16.1a(3) No relief when clearly unreasonable 

To be entitled to free relief, you must have interference from an immovable obstruction under rule 16.1 and it has to be a “reasonable stroke.” Playing into the trunk of a tree is not considered reasonable.

I would not get free relief for this situation. I could play it as it lies, or take relief for an unplayable lie for one penalty stroke (Rule 19.2) which could be within two club lengths for a penalty stroke (19.2c Lateral Relief) back on the line with the flag, keeping the ball on that line (19.2b Back-On-The-Line Relief) or I could go back to my last place played under stroke and distance (19.2a Stroke-and-Distance Relief).

“I don’t think anyone in the world could play a shot around this tree and to the flag.”  David Blake, rules official

The skill level of the player is a factor in determining if the stroke to be attempted is a “reasonable stroke.”

Using the back-on-the-line option for unplayable lie relief (which costs me one penalty stroke) I back up while holding the ball up, and I look at the flag to keep the point between the ball and the hole, and I just start walking backwards.  I’m going to see if there is a spot that I like (I can go as far back as I want.)

Player may go as far back as they wish, keeping the point between the ball and the hole.

It’s helpful to place a tee next to the ball before you lift it, but not required.

Player may choose a distance to the flag they like or just a better spot to drop. Player has one club-length from the reference point from which to drop. (A club-length is defined as the longest club in your bag, except for your putter). You are not required to actually measure with your driver, but it’s a good idea.

The ball must come to rest in the relief area. The ball may roll forward of the spot on which it was dropped, but not forward of the reference point.

This is definitely an advanced rule, but I thought it was a great one to share with you because it comes  up quite often. I hope these rules videos and posts are helpful for you. I invite you to join our Private Facebook Group for tons more golf rules videos, as well as swing tips from the pros. 

Marcela launched Girlfriends Guide To Golf and her On-Course Rules Experiences to grow the game, help women learn the rules of golf, and feel more confident out on the course.

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