Misunderstood Rules 3: Nearest or Nicest Point of Relief?

Perhaps every golfer is tempted by this with the following thought process:

“It can’t be relief if I can’t get a swing at it, so I’ll find the nearest point where I can actually play the ball”

Commonly known as finding the “nicest” rather than “nearest” point of relief.

Sorry – but that isn’t correct. The nearest point of complete relief will be a specific spot where you no longer have interference from the condition (and only that condition) from which you are taking relief. This spot might be in the middle of a bush and completely unplayable.

The official definition is “the estimated point where the ball would lie that is:

  • Nearest to the ball’s original spot, but not nearer the hole than that spot,
  • In the required area of the course
  • Where the condition does not interfere with the stroke the player would have made from the original spot if the condition was not there.”

If you drop outside the relief area measured from this spot then you will have “played from a wrong place” and you will incur the General Penalty (loss of hole / 2 strokes) as a minimum. However, in stroke play, if it is considered by the committee to be a “serious breach” you will be disqualified.

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