Relief from a Path Parallel to Direction of Play

A quick revisit on request to a topic covered a while ago. This is really a reminder that there is just one NEAREST Point of Complete Relief. The rules do not allow you to choose the nicest point of complete relief!

Recommendation is to always determine your nearest point of complete relief before you pick up your ball. It may be that you have to drop in a worse position and you would far rather have played it from the path (or other Abnormal Course Condition). It is also possible that this point will be different for different for different golfers – notably right and left handed golfers will determine different points as you must get your stance off the path to obtain the “complete” relief.

The Rule is fairly straightforward: Find your “Reference Point” which is the Nearest Point of Complete Relief which is not nearer the hole, drop the ball into the “Relief Area” which is within one club length of, not nearer the hole than, and in the same area of the course as your Reference Point. It must also provide that complete relief, so it is likely to be shaped like a quarter circle in this instance. There is no penalty for taking relief from the path as it is an Immovable Obstruction which is one of the defined Abnormal Course Conditions.

However if you take relief to the nicest rather than nearest point, or you play your next stroke with your feet on the path you will have played from a wrong place and incur at least a 2 stroke penalty.

6 thoughts on “Relief from a Path Parallel to Direction of Play

  1. As a rules official, I understand about only one NPCR. However, playing devil’s advocate, if your ball is laying exactly in the middle of a sprinkler head isn’t it possible that taking relief either to the right or left could be exactly 4 inches?


    1. Hi David,
      Yes – it is possible for there to be more than one place where there is no measurable difference to determine if one is closer than the others. In this case I would allow the player to choose whichever one they wish to use. When refereeing I do carry a “Gotcha” measuring reel which can be helpful to establish if there is a small difference to make one spot closer than another.


  2. You state at the end of your explanation “at least 1 penalty stroke ” you should actually state it is a 2 stroke Penalty for playing from a wrong place Rule 14.7a Most people will only remember you said 1 pen as most people only see what they want to see. I am new to the site but really enjoy the situations and your explanations are usually very clear………thanks………….michael


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