TAKING A SIDE
Hi, Rules Guy: My left-handed friend hit a ball that landed two feet left of a cart path. Out of bounds was marked five feet left of the path, so his ball was in the rough and in bounds but he was standing on the cart path. We thought he was entitled to relief of one club length, no closer to the hole. If he went one club length back, he still had a stance on the cart path. He claimed he could drop on the right side of the path. I disagreed because that would have been more than one club length away. He said he didn't have to play the ball standing on the path. I claimed that if he wanted to move to the right side of the path it would cost him a stroke. Which side is right?
— Ralph Richardi, Mill Valley, Calif.
The Rules side with your lefty friend. There is no maximum distance that you can go to find the nearest point of relief (NPR), no nearer the hole. The one club length applies only to the area where you can drop the ball after determining the NPR. If your friend's NPR was on the other side of the cart path, then he can play from there without any penalty. Next time make sure you follow the right path.