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Taking Relief From a Cart Path
Is a Drop the Best Choice?

Learn how to take a drop and get relief from a cart path. Getting Relief From the Path

Cart paths. Nearly every course has them whether concrete, asphalt, limestone or just plain dirt. While the vast majority of them are located out of normal play or along the sides of the course (yeah, like we're that accurate) some do cut right through the fairway or even right by the green. When your ball does come to rest on a cart path or if the path affects or interferes with your stance, you do get relief. Should you always take it though?

Know Your Options

It's important to know your options and make a good assessment of the situation before you rush to take that drop. A smooth cart path after all is a perfect lie. What? Am I suggesting you might actually hit the ball off of the path? Yes I am. The only downside is actually damage to your club. When your ball is on the path you have several advantages:

1) A level lie (in most cases)
2) A clean lie with no grass or dirt in the way
3) A better look at the pin (sometimes)

So you can see that taking a drop may not always be in your best interest. Often times it means dropping in the rough or an unpredictable lie. It can also mean dropping in a spot where you are blocked out by a tree branch or don't have a clear shot to the green. For highly skilled players dropping on one side of the path vs. the other can mean having to coming in to the green on a more difficult angle. It's best to take your time, look around, assess the situation and decide if the drop is really worth it.

Like I said earlier hitting off the path only has the disadvantage of scuffing up your club. It will definitely tear it up so you have to be willing to sacrifice the beauty of your iron to save a stroke. The other main issue is that people get scared. They are afraid to hit down so they stand up or ginch up their arms. This is one shot in particular where you have to stay 100% committed. You absolutely must hit down so that the ball pops back up. Keep your weight more on your front foot and be sure to properly shift your weight through the shot. The chances of hitting the ground before the ball will be miniscule if you don't hang back.

When your ball lands on the path follow USGA Rule 24:

"24-2. Immovable Obstruction
a. Interference
Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, or when the obstruction interferes with the player's stance or the area of his intended swing. If the player's ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs if an immovable obstruction on the putting green intervenes on his line of putt. Otherwise, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, interference under this Rule.

b. Relief
Except when the ball is in a water hazard or a lateral water hazard, a player may take relief from interference by an immovable obstruction as follows:

(i)Through the Green: If the ball lies through the green, the player must lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When the ball is dropped within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the immovable obstruction and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green."

Taking Relief Might Not Be Best

As you can see you do in fact get full relief from a cart path and knowing the proper steps to take always helps you take the best advantage. Remember, you have the option of taking full relief or playing the ball as it lies. Assess the situation and decide if relief is really the best option. In a lot of instances, relief could actually put you in a more difficult situation and add another recovery stroke to your card. Don't be afraid to go for it and hit off the path if it turns out to be the best option. If you decide to give it a try, commit to the shot, make sure to shift your weight and don't be afraid to hit down and through the ball.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
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