St. Johns October 20 Newsletter - Page 9

Rules of the Game
Arnie played his second shot on hole # 1 and it rolled across the cart path near the right side of the green . After a brief search , he found his ball close to one of the palmetto bushes , about a foot off the cart path . He declared that he was taking relief from the cart path , an obstruction , and would take a free drop .
As Arnie picked up ( lifted ) his ball , Jack asked him where he intended to drop it . “ No closer to the hole ,” Arnie replied as he walked to the side of the palmetto .
“ Just a minute , Arnie . You can ’ t take a drop there . You have to go to the nearest point of relief .”
“ That ’ s exactly what I ’ m doing . I am taking relief from the cart path , and I am dropping the ball where I have a swing .”
“ Arnie , you are allowed to take free relief from the cart path , but not from the bushes . Your nearest point of relief is deeper into the palmetto , not ten feet away from it .”
Arnie argued that dropping in the bush gave him no swing , so he had no relief . He was right about that , but Jack was also correct in his interpretation of the relief options available in Rule 16 . Arnie was entitled to relief from the obstruction , the concrete cart path , but not from anything else . In this case , the nearest point of relief from the cart path was further under the palmetto . In reality , Arnie was not going to get any relief from the cart path due to the circumstances .
His options at this point were limited . He could try to play the ball as it lay , under the bush , or he could declare it unplayable and use the relief available under Rule 19 ( Unplayable ). In that case , he would also incur a penalty stroke since there is no free relief for an unplayable ball .
Arnie had one other problem to overcome at this point . He had lifted his ball from next to the bush . If he decided to forego any relief and replace the ball , he would have to add a penalty stroke because he lifted the ball without cause under the Rules . Poor Arnie !
We can learn a couple things from Arnie and Jack . First , free relief is very limited because the Rules of Golf don ’ t like to give anything away . Second , do not pick up your golf ball until you know exactly how you will proceed .
Play fair , hit ‘ em straight and not too often .
Suggestions , comments , or questions … email thegolfnerd @ gmail . com .