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Free relief from cart tracks?

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On the right side of the first green on my home course, there is a cart path that starts around pin-high and then proceeds to the second hole.  Every gas cart drives over the grass right before the path starts.  The ground in this area is clearly NOT a cart path.  It is a grassy area that has been flattened and compacted by many gas carts.  It is NOT marked as GUR.  There are no ruts.

My opinion is you do NOT get free relief.  In support of my opinion, I remember the 2022 Sony Open in Hawaii.  Kevin Chappell was denied relief under Rule 16.1 from cart tracks.  The rules official (Ken Tackett) said, "...it's not the tracks, it has to be a rut where the ball is sitting down."   https://golf.com/instruction/rules/pro-denied-rules-relief-cleverly-asks-birdie/

On the other hand, 16.1 seems to indicate you DO get relief because this condition is not part of the challenge of playing the course.  I don't think playing from hard-pan caused by gas carts is part of the challenge of playing the course.  

16.1 also says if the condition interferes with your lie, then it's an abnormal course condition.  I think the hard-pan does interfere with the lie.


So, do I get free relief?

If you could provide evidence/logic with your answer, I would very much appreciate that.

Thanks in advance!

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Do you think you would get relief from hardpan between the rough and tree line where carts drive down a hole?

Imo hardpan regardless it’s near a hole where along cart path or along the rough where carts drive down a hole to their ball and after a shot to their next shot falls under the rule you posted.

Hard pan doesn’t interfere with your lie. It’s just a less than ideal lie.

Does it suck to have to play from there? Yup. But bad luck/bad breaks don’t entitle anyone to free relief. 



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2 hours ago, Silver Datsun said:

So, do I get free relief?

If you could provide evidence/logic with your answer, I would very much appreciate that.


No, it is not an artificial surface.  The article below discusses sandy cart paths,  but I would say also applies to the firm path that you are referring to.  


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  • 3 weeks later...

It’s a double edge sword, the rules of golf are clear, but some courses have local rules, sometimes it’s on the scorecard. 
Cement or Concrete free to move, others no, unless local rules allow it and sometimes that’s only in casual play and not tournaments.

When this comes up the old adage is, don’t hit it there. Yes not helpful but someone in the group will say it. 

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