How do you take relief from a cart path?
This page describes how to to take relief without penalty from an abnormal course condition such as a cart path. This is found under Rule 16 in the Rules of Golf. It was added to the 3rd edition of the Golf 101 book because it's a rule that gets applied regularly in golf.
You may take relief from a cart path if either your ball is on the path or your feet would be on the path for your next stroke. If you choose not to take relief, you may hit your ball as it lies on or near the path. This is only recommended, however, if you feel you can hit a better shot than your relief area provides and you feel you won't hurt yourself.
Cart path surfaces are hard. If you accidentally hit the ground during your stroke, you could injure yourself and damage your club. Ask yourself, is it worth the risk or should I take penalty free relief?
To take relief, you must take complete relief. This means your feet and ball must not be touching the path during your next stroke. With this in mind, the golfer must find their nearest point of relief, not closer to the hole.
If the nearest point of relief is difficult to determine, place tees in the ground on both sides of the path where the ball would provide complete relief. From there, measure which tee is closest to your original ball. The tee that is closest determines which side you must drop the ball on (see page 22 image).
Now drop the ball from knee height within one club length of your nearest point of relief, not closer to the hole (see shadow area on Page 22). You may use the longest club in your bag to measure your one club length.
Other abnormal course conditions you can take complete relief without penalty include ground under repair, an embedded ball, balls resting in puddles of water, and balls coming to rest near a dangerous animal. To learn more about these conditions and others, refer to the Rules of Golf under Rule 16.