Question: I ended up on a par 5, drive off the tee, 359 yards. Bad side of it was, the ball bounced down the cart path about 122 yards, coming to a rest in the center of the path. It was a clear line to the flag, but rocks and trees lined the back of the path. I was trying to break 80 for the first time, and took 3 off the tee and re-played the drive. What should I have done? - Brian
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 within one club length, and the ball must be dropped.
What if behind the cart path where you would take your one club length drop there is a small group of trees? You are now stuck. Since this doesn't happen often, it is precisely why you need to know what to do.
Bear in mind that the pros get free clubs, and your precious new wedge will get scuffed (you may want to declare an 'unplayable', take the penalty stroke, and not damage your wedge if you were not trying to break 80. But hang on, where are you going to drop?).
Take your sand wedge, set up in an open stance, ball forward in the stance, club face open. Take the swing for the distance and and do not use the center of the club face, as that will utilize the bounce. This we are playing off the toe of the club, so you will raise the heel slightly off the path and aim left of your landing target. The ball should come off nice and high and soft, and if you get a chance to practice this shot, you can amp up the backspin rate to have the ball check if the ball was landing on the green.
Try this next time, break 80 and play well!
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