The procedures for taking relief from a cart path have changed a bit in 2019, but not just because you need to drop from knee-height.

Yes, the height from which you need to drop is now at the level of your knee when standing (though you don’t need to be standing upright to take your drop). But in addition to that there are slight changes to the terminology.

First, many players weren’t aware you needed to take “complete relief” when taking relief from an immovable obstruction such as a cart path or sprinkler. It was always required, but now the rule actually states “complete relief”, which makes it more clear. (I’m happy about that since my husband has a sad story of losing the a club championship due to not taking “complete relief” many years ago)

“Reference Point”, “Relief Area”, and “Complete Relief” are key terms you will want to know when dealing with an immovable obstruction such as a cart path or sprinkler.

Rule 16 Relief From Abnormal Course Conditions

“Abnormal Course Conditions” include Immovable Obstructions, Dangerous Animal Conditions and Embedded Balls.

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 Rule 16.1B

  • You may take free relief from an abnormal course condition on the course
  • Determine your “Reference Point”, which is your nearest point of complete relief from the condition
  • Take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in the “Relief Area”
  • Your Relief Area is measured within one club length of your reference point, no closer to the hole than the Reference Point
  • (IMPORTANT: Most likely you will utilize the driver to measure that one club length because you must use the longest club EXCEPT the putter).
  • Drop your ball straight down from knee height without touching yourself or equipment first
  • The ball must come to rest within the relief area

Nearest, Not Nicest Point of Relief

Now taking free relief from a cart path is where a lot of players get into trouble. They want to pick their “nicest point of relief” instead of their “nearest point of relief”. If you do that and play from the wrong place, you could earn yourself a two stroke penalty.

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