Preferred Lies and Winter Rules
Guest post from Barry Rhodes author of the book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’. Players are often confused by the subject of ‘Winter Rules’ or ‘Preferred Lies’ therefore Club, Society and course Committees should anticipate the arrival of adverse course conditions and have properly worded temporary Local Rules prepared that spell out exactly what is, and what is not permitted.
There are very few golf courses that do not suffer from adverse conditions at certain times of the year, thereby justifying the introduction of temporary Local Rules, either to protect the course or to promote fair and pleasant play.
Unfortunately, players are often confused by the subject of ‘Winter Rules’, or ‘Preferred Lies’ (or as some golfers critically refer to it, “Lift, Clean and Cheat”), due to the cavalier attitude taken to the issuing of the Local Rule by many Committees.
Unfortunately, this is a subject that many Club, Society and course Committees do not take seriously enough, resulting in the introduction of temporary Local Rules that are incomplete and badly worded. This sloppiness is often compounded by failing to adequately display the Local Rule where it will easily be seen and taken note of by members before commencing their rounds.
Committees should anticipate the arrival of adverse course conditions and have properly worded temporary Local Rules prepared that spell out exactly what is, and what is not permitted. It is definitely not good enough to post a notice that says ‘Winter Rules Apply’, or ‘Lift, Clean and Place Everywhere’.
Where possible, it is recommended that Committees follow the wording of the specimen Local Rules that are provided in Appendix l, Part B, section 4 of the Rules book, amended as required. Amongst the subjects that should be considered are;
- Whether lift, clean and drop is to be restricted to closely mown areas through the green, or is to include the rough.
- Whether the ball must be marked before it is lifted (strongly recommended).
- How far the player is allowed to place their ball from where they picked it up (e.g. the width of a score card, 6 inches, one club-length).
- If mark, lift, clean and place is restricted to closely mown areas through the green, whether there is relief for a ball that is embedded in the rough, which would require a separate Local Rule.
- The procedure to be followed if a player’s ball comes to rest on a temporary putting green (e.g. one marked out on an approach to a putting green) that is not in use.
- If mats are in use on a teeing ground, whether the player must play from the mat, even if they are able to tee their ball within two club-lengths behind the tee markers without it being on the mat.
- Confirming that a player may place their ball only once and it is in play once placed. If the placed comes to rest on the spot and then subsequently moves, there is no penalty, but the ball must be played as it lies.
- Identifying general areas of ground under repair (GUR), such as cut turf seams, sand slits areas of drainage disruption and damage caused by heavy equipment.
- Whether taking relief from areas defined as GUR is mandatory, as the Rules state that players may take relief from GUR.
- Identifying dropping zones and when they may be used.
- Note that a Committee may not make a Local Rule providing generally that flooded bunkers are ground under repair through the green. See Decision 33-8/27.
I am reminded of a situation I experienced some years ago when a fellow competitor, whose ball had embedded in the bank of a ditch inside the margin of a water hazard, started to prise it out. When I advised him that there was no relief for a ball embedded in a water hazard he abruptly replied that the notice in the pro-shop said, “Placing Everywhere”!
Article from Barry Rhodes author of the book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf 2016’
Barry is author of the book, '999 Updated Questions on the Rules of Golf 2012 - 2015' and writes a regular blog of miscellaneous content on the rules of Golf at www.barryrhodes.comLatest Articles
- Rules: Before Commencing a Round
- Are Rules Made to be Broken?
- Golfing in Bad Weather - Rules to be aware of