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Taking relief using a local rule is not always the best option!

Taking relief using a local rule is not always the best option!

Taking relief using a local rule is not always the best option!
Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

Don’t take a drop if it is not necessary!

Several years ago, I was playing on the South African PGA Tour.  During the second round of the General Motors Open at Wedgewood Golf Club, on the 9th hole, I found myself on a gravel pathway.  I was entitled to relief, but the grass around the pathway was at least 12″ deep.  If I dropped there, I would almost certainly have had an impossible shot, as I was also in a wooded area.  I decided to play the ball off the gravel, managed to get the ball onto the front edge of the green, and then proceeded to hole a monster 60-foot putt for birdie!  So, sometimes not taking relief can pay dividends.  Next time, before you hastily pick up your ball, ready to take a drop, assess your various options because you might experience a very positive result as I did.  Thanks to Mark Aumann of for this insightful article!
USA Today Sports Images
Jamie Lovemark’s drop on the second playoff hole Monday left him with a rulebook decision.

Just because the Rules of Golf offer you the option to take relief from an obstruction, it’s not always in your best interests.

Consider the case of Jamie Lovemark on Monday in the Zurich Classic playoff. On the second playoff hole, Lovemark plugged his approach left of the green and near the grandstand. Because of the heavy rains that soaked TPC Louisiana all weekend, a Local Rule enabled him to drop from a point nearest to where his ball embedded, but it eventually came to rest just an inch or two away from the concrete cart path.

That qualifies as an immovable obstruction under Rule 24-2b since the cart path could have interfered with the path of Lovemark’s intended swing. But Lovemark knew — and confirmed with a Rules Official — he had the option of playing the ball there instead of taking relief.

Assess your options before you lift the ball.

For Chip Essig, 2011 National PGA Golf Professional of the Year and Vice Chairman of the PGA of America’s Rules Committee, that’s a point every player needs to keep in mind. 

“If he was within an inch or two of the cart path, I’m sure he had cart path relief,” Essig said. “But you don’t have to take relief from an obstruction if you don’t want to. It’s something I always tell players.  Before you lift your ball, make sure you know where you’re going to have to drop it.”

“This is a case where if he went over there and immediately lifted it, he would have to take relief. And since he didn’t, he could go ahead and play it.”

Lovemark realized that where the ball came to rest — on a relatively flat, somewhat dry lie — was probably going to be better than taking relief and dropping into an area where spectators and carts had made a muddy mess. In addition, there was no telling what kind of stance he might have.

And per the old adage, the better the devil you know rather than the devil you don’t.

To read the final outcome of this story, go here!

Source: Mark Aumann

Pictures: Oregon Golf Association    USA Today Sports Images

Thanks for reading – Taking relief using a local rule is not always the best option!

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