Just my personal opinion on the matter, but as long as the same standard is applied equitably to every player in the field - then it's obviously fair play.
I'm just offering that "IF" the USGA is interested in simplifying the rules, particularly in this situation as it relates to amateur play, (and providing they don't see any willingness to bifurcate the rules between pro and amateur) then make a simple concession that either side of the path, no closer to the hole, would be more practical and much more expedient.
I personally don't want to see certain rules changed just for the sake of "dumbing down" the game... the most common complaint is playing out of a divot. Well... I understand the reason why the USGA wouldn't want to go down that road, as the conditions of what is or isn't defined as a divot would require a 500-word discertation, creating even more subjectivity and uncertainty.
This isn't one of those instances imo. Pretty much straight-forward, and since a majority of amateur players are either ignorant of the concept of "nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole," or understand the concept but still look to bend the rule out of convenience/expediency/both - maybe this particular situation is the perfect example where a more relaxed rule that permits two options would, in the end, accomplish more of what they seem to be searching for as it relates to simplifying certain rules out of respect to keeping the pace moving.
I mean - dropping a ball in a relief or penalty situation from shoulder-length versus an inch above the ground doesn't really change that much with regard to how the ball lies. I will concede that dropping an inch from the ground removes the likelihood of the ball rolling beyond the typical 1-club relief boundary, but beyond that - it doesn't really change the lie dynamics substantially (outside of dropping in a sand bunker). But those situations are so rare that it really doesn't impact much of anything outside of the potential time saved with further drops.
We have a notable situation at our club, our 3rd hole on a long par5, with a cart path near the boundary of shrubs and a hazard, where it is almost routine to see this rule being abused, as proper relief would leave a situation nearly identical as that of the video with Spieth that I posted above. Player A lays up short of the pond on his second shot, bounces left and ends up somewhere near the middle of the path because of the contour of the fairway/cart path. Proper relief per the rules, most times, means dropping behind the shrubs (that are within the hazard). Now he has 150 yards to the green, but has no shot because the proper drop puts the shrubs in the hazard between him and the hole. Now obviously he has the option of either playing from the path (taking no relief but potentially damaging his 7-iron) or dropping behind the hazard within the 1-club relief but then having no shot to the green.
So what does Player A do? He conveniently assumes that his ideal relief is on the other side of the cart path where he has an unobstructed path to the green, when technically it is not.
That puts his opponent in a situation where he has to contest the drop (if it were a tournament situation) and generally requires a ruling from the head pro to determine the specifics within the rules, otherwise a pissing contest ensues. Which isn't appreciated by either party really.
Where if the rule was relaxed, the player would have the option to either (1) play from the path without relief, or (2) proceed to either side of the path (within 1 club, no nearer the hole) for his relief drop. No pissing contest, no debate, no 3 minutes waiting for the head pro to come out and oversee the process.
I just think there are many more of these type instances impacting amateur players versus dropping from shoulder-length versus 1-inch drop above the ground.
And I will tell you that in casual, friendly play - I'm not calling the guy out for dropping on the wrong side of the path, and I don't think I represent the minority in that situation. So why not just make that concession, if for no other reason that to avoid controversy/pace of play issues?
It just seems like a very rigid, player-unfriendly ruling.... IF that's the type of situation the USGA is hoping to address.
As it relates to me personally - I always honor that rule. I'm not, however, gonna ding up my 7-iron for an unobstructed shot to the green. So I'm forced to play well to the right of the green.
Or either forced to be a rules nazi in a tournament situation to opponents facing that exact situation.
I'm probably not explaining this very well.... with a very narrow lay-up area on the second shot of this hole (pond in front, pond to the right, cart path and marked garden hazard to the left) with what is effectively a pinched 15-yard fairway - there's not much room for forgiveness.
It's a design flaw imo... but this is one of those situations where changing that rule would make things infinitely more simple.