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Relief not always desirable

Q. I was at the girls state championship in October and saw a player call you over because she was standing on a cart path and wanted relief. I then saw that she ended up making the shot while still standing on the path. Why didn’t you grant her relief? — Concerned Father

A. The ruling for relief from an obstruction (cart path) is the nearest relief no closer to the hole plus one club length. This player’s nearest relief would have been in the desert where she wouldn’t have had a shot of any kind. She made the right decision by standing on the cart path and making the shot. Remember, you are usually entitled to relief from an obstruction but your relief may not always be in a desirable location.

Q. I read your ruling on embedded ball last month and have a question. What if I had an embedded ball on the putting green, could I fix the pitch mark before putting? — Tom Incorvaia

A. The embedded ball rule in Appendix I is for a ball that is “through the green.” By definition the putting green of the hole being played is not “through the green.” A pitch mark made by a ball on the putting green is considered a ball mark. A ball mark on the putting green is something you can repair before making a stroke at the ball. You can repair the ball mark whether your ball is on or off the putting green.

Q. While playing in our club championship last week, a fellow competitor’s ball was hit out into the desert. We all went down to look for the ball and while we were still searching he decided to go back and hit a provisional. Was this proper procedure? — B.M.

A. No it was not. The rule for a provisional ball states, the player must inform his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play that he intends to play a provisional ball, and he must play it before he or his partner goes forward to search for the original ball.

If he fails to do so and plays another ball, that ball is not a provisional ball and becomes the ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance and the original ball is lost.

Sue May is a U.S. Open rules official, a member of the USGA Senior Women’s committee and head rules director for the Butch Harmon Vegas Tour. Address your rules questions to suemay@cox.net.

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