Question presented: On cart paths, sprinklers, or grounds under repair, where should the player drop the ball?
USGA Definition: Nearest Point of Relief
The nearest point of relief is the reference point for taking relief without penalty from interference by an immovable obstruction (Rule 24-2), an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1) or a wrong putting green (Rule 25-3).
t is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies:
(i) that is not nearer the hole, and
(ii) where, if the ball were so positioned, no interference by the condition from which relief is sought would exist for the stroke the player would have made from the original position if the condition were not there.
Note: In order to determine the nearest point of relief accurately, the player should use the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke.
Does the player have to take the relief? No, but if relief is taken, then the player must obtain complete relief.
Where is the nearest point of relief? It depends on where the ball is located and whether the player is playing left-handed or right-handled.
Can the nearest point of relief be on both side of the cart path? It is possible but generally not probable.
Please watch the video provided by the USGA for a discussion about the nearest point of relief.