July - 2014

Do you know what the three areas of the Rules are that allow a free drop without penalty?

Because this happens to us all the time, it's wise to have a clear understanding exactly how to proceed when the Rules allow relief from certain conditions.

When the question arises of taking a drop, you can begin with the Definition Section, and the explanation of Nearest Point Of Relief.

What you see below is the (let's call it the simple version) from the Definitions Section. When you look up the actual Rules- 24-2, 25-1, and 25-3, many more factors can be brought into play.

Nearest Point Of Relief
The "nearest point of relief" is the reference point for taking relief without penalty from interference by an immovable obstruction (Rule 24-2), an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1) or a wrong putting green (Rule 25-3). It is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies:

  • (i) that is not nearer the hole, and
  • (ii) where, if the ball were so positioned, no interference by the condition from which relief is sought would exist for the stroke the player would have made from the original position if the condition were not there.

Note: In order to determine the nearest point of relief accurately, the player should use the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke.


An "obstruction'' is anything artificial, including the artificial surfaces and sides of roads and paths and manufactured ice, except:

  • a. Objects defining out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings;
  • b. Any part of an immovable artificial object that is out of bounds; and
  • c. Any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course.

An obstruction is a movable obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. Otherwise, it is an immovable obstruction.

Note:The Committee may make a Local Rule declaring a movable obstruction to be an immovable obstruction.

Abnormal Ground Conditions

An "abnormal ground condition" is any casual water, ground under repair or hole, cast or runway on the course made by a burrowing animal, a reptile or a bird.

Wrong Putting Green

A "wrong putting green" is any putting green other than that of the hole being played. Unless otherwise prescribed by the Committee, this term includes a practice putting green or pitching green on the course.

      Derek Duesler