This weeks PGA Tour event in Hawaii showcased a real-life situation where the players knowledge of the Rules enabled him to ask the right questions, receive a drop due to a local rule defining an (TIO) obstruction and go on to make birdie on the hole.
What was so unique about this situation? Would you know how to proceed?
The player involved, Nick Taylor, was playing well and actually leading the event. He hits maybe his only poor shot in the first 2 rounds but ends up in a unique position on the left of the 9th hole adjacent to the chain link fence defining the driving range as out of bounds. The definition of a Boundary Object states that artificial objects defining or showing out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings, from which free relief is not allowed. The chain link fence interferes with his right-handed stance, so he can only play at the ball left-handed. So how may we ask does he receive a free drop, play the shot right-handed and proceed to birdie the hole?
The only way he can play the ball is to hit lefty, this causes the netting above the chain link fence to cause interference with his next shot. Since the use of a left-handed swing is not clearly unreasonable in the circumstances, and because the netting has been defined as an Immovable Obstruction (TIO), relief is allowed.
The events you play in typically do not have tv towers, bleachers or the like, which on the tour are usually defined as a TIO. On Tour, Temporary Immovable Objects are defined on the local rules sheet. (It can pay off to read the local rules sheet before every event you play in and possibly even keep a copy of it in your golf bag for reference while playing.) This is the one specific case (a Local Rule, not a Rule of Golf) where a player may receive relief for an obstruction in his/her line of play or “Line of Sight Relief”.
After the relief procedure for the left-handed swing is complete, the player may then use a normal right-handed swing for the next stroke. (Rule 16.1a(3)/1)
For brevity: a player may not use clearly unreasonable stroke to get relief from condition (Rule 16.1a(3)/2)
If the players stroke is clearly unreasonable given the circumstances, relief under Rule 16.1 is not allowed, and he/she must either play the ball as it likes or take unplayable ball relief.
Definitions of the week: (homework for you to research)
Obstruction, Immovable Obstruction, Integral Object, General Area, Boundary Object
Heath Wassem, PGA