How many of you have ended up on a cart path and not known how to deal with it???? Usually when a player is on a cart path they don't want to play off of it and will drop on the fairway side of the path. The problem here is that you are to drop within one club length of the nearest point of relief and not closer to the hole.
Now what is the Nearest Point of Relief? It is the reference point for taking relief without penalty from interference by the cart path. This reference point is the nearest point and may often not be in a very good spot. In order to determine the Nearest Point of Relief accurately, you should use the club with which you would have made your next stroke if the path was not there and simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for the stroke you would play. You should check this point on both sides of the path and then you will get your club length from the nearest point. There will be a different reference point for right and left handed players. When dropping the ball you will hold your arm straight out at shoulder height and drop. When the ball strikes the ground it can roll up to two club lengths no closer to the hole and to a point where there is no interference from the cart path. If the ball does roll more than two club lengths or have interference from the cart path you must drop the ball again and if it does the same thing then you can place the ball where it last struck the ground (Drop, redrop then place).
Remember that when taking relief from the cart path you must take complete relief so no interference for the stroke or stance. Sometimes the best option is playing off the cart path and a good example is on Hole #16 on Premiere right of the green where if you want to take free relief the Nearest Point of Relief is usually in the bush which isn't a pleasant place to drop. I know this area and have hit many of the cart path there. Another area that I have hit off the cart path is left on Hole #17 Premiere where I don't want to hit off the slope of the hill and have a flat stance on the path since my nearest point of relief would be on the sloped left side. If you have any questions on this Rule don't hesitate to ask me when I'm at the course.
Gerry Bower OVGA Rules Chairman