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Taking Cart Path Relief

Taking proper cart path relief without penalty doesn’t guarantee a good lie & in rare circumstances, playing the ball from the path might be the best choice.

USGA Golf Rules Clinic
Proper Cart Path Relief

The Fastest way to lower your score is to learn the Rules of Golf. Having a USGA rules book in your bag and understanding them will help your score.

The Most common misunderstanding of the rules is how to take free relief from an immovable obstruction such as a Cart Path. A Cart Path is considered an Immovable Obstruction.

Under  Rule 24-2b Immovable Obstruction – If your ball lies on or near the cart path or when the obstruction interferes with your stance or the area of intended swing you may take free relief  –  you must determine the nearest point of relief no closer to the hole with in one club length and the ball must be dropped.

Very Important = Before you take the relief you must do two very important things:

  • Have 3 tees in your pocket to help mark the nearest point of relief.
  • Tell your playing partners you are taking relief and ask the player who has your score card to come over to witness the drop.

The Diagram Below clearly shows how to determine Nearest point of Relief. This is the key to taking relief. Simulate the address position with a club in hand at both sides of the cart path. Place a tee at where the club head sits on the ground at both sides of path. Then pace off –  measure each tee from where the original ball lies – thus determining the nearest point. Then lay a club down from the tee in the ground – make sure the club angle is not closer to the hole. Now mark the end of the club with another tee. Now lift the club off the ground and make your drop shoulder height. If the ball settles no closer to hole after it lands on the ground – the ball is now in play. Remember- if the ball settles outside the marked area and or is closer to the hole, you must re-drop. If the 2nd drop does the same thing, then you may place the ball exactly at the spot of where the ball landed ( Have your playing partner mark the spot on the ground with their finger as you retrieve the ball to place it).



I have played in many Professional Events, I coach High School Golf and I officiate many events at Chesapeake Bay Golf Club and the most common fault by all is not determining Nearest Point of Relief first prior to dropping your ball and putting it in play. Most players I have witnessed just pick the ball up and assume the drop is on the fairway side of the cart path. Sometimes the nearest point of relief could be in a hedge or in high rough. So in this case the proper play is to play the ball off the cart path.

Remember if you play your ball from an improper drop – you are playing from a wrong place. Rule 20-7c – a player will incur a two 2 shot penalty or can be disqualified.

The USGA Rules are created to help the golfer – not to penalize the golfer. It is very important to know the rules of golf, they can help you have a better experience on the course and in most cases improve your score.

If you are looking to improve your game – I recommend getting lessons from a PGA Golf Professional. Here at Chesapeake Bay Golf Club We have 5 PGA Professionals here to assist you.

Contributed By:
Andrew Barbin, PGA Golf Professional / Director of Golf
Chesapeake Bay Golf Club