Relief from Cart Path: Official Golf Rules

By Todd Mrowice

golf ball on cart path

The cart path is typically not your friend on the golf course. It serves its purpose taking you from hole-to-hole, but when it comes to your golf shots hitting it, that usually leads to trouble. But what happens when your golf ball comes to rest on the cart path? Or, when your golf ball settles up against it? Here's exactly how to proceed in accordance with the Rules of Golf in this situation.

The Ruling

The good news for you is there's no penalty for taking a drop from the cart path. USGA Rules note that a golfer is entitled to free relief from a cart path if the ball comes to rest upon the path or the golfer's swing or stance is inhibited by the path. A golfer's stance is deemed to be inhibited if any part of their foot comes in contact with the path.

If you find yourself in this situation it's best to not be a hero and just take the free relief. Scuffing your irons or worse, hurting yourself, isn't worth it.

How to Take Your Drop

First and foremost, you must pick the nearest point of relief from the cart path that is no closer to the hole. You get relief from the path but no gain in yardage can be taken.

After you've determined that spot, mark it with a golf tee in the ground. You are allowed one club length from that spot, which you can mark with another tee.

Drop your golf ball from knee height anywhere between the two tees in the ground. Note: As of 2019, you can no longer drop from shoulder height. Remember, no penalty is taken since the cart path is a "man-made" object.

The Alternative

If it's deemed that the nearest point of relief would actually be a further disadvantage, you can elect to play the shot from the cart path. Again, this is not recommended based on the cost of golf equipment and the potential for injury. You will also have to be supremely confident in making a clean pick of a golf shot.

About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. He has been writing about golf for over 10 years including a long tenure at GOLFChicago Magazine. Todd has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours.