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Preferred Lies to Last Until End of May at English Golf Courses

By: | Thu 21 Mar 2024

It's been an extraordinarily sodden winter throughout the UK, which is a topic that we've covered frequently in recent months. Records have shown that it was the wettest July-December in this country since those statistics started being kept in 1890. The Met Office has also just revealed that the south of England alone saw its wettest February since records began in 1836, while across England as a whole, the past 18 months have been the wettest in recorded history.

Therefore, it's no surprise to learn that our golf courses have been massively impacted as the new season approaches, putting immense pressure on greenkeepers. Consequently, England Golf has revised its Winter Golf Checklist, extending the period in which clubs are permitted to deploy preferred lies on their layout.

It was due to conclude at the end of April, but that has now been extended to the end of May, meaning that golf clubs will be allowed to have preferred lies until the edge of summertime, something that might very well be unprecedented.

There is even the prospect that individual clubs could request for their own window to be extended even further.

What Are Preferred Lies?

This is how England Golf itself defines preferred lies and what the local rule means for golfers:

"When a player’s ball lies in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less, the player may take free relief once by placing the original ball or another ball in and playing it from this relief area:

  • Reference Point: Spot of the original ball.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: 6 inches from the reference point, but with these limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and must be in the general area.

"In proceeding under this Local Rule, the player must choose a spot to place the ball and use the procedures for replacing a ball under Rules 14.2b(2) and 14.2e. But for the purposes of applying Rule 14.2e, the player has only chosen the spot on which to place the ball once the ball has been set down, and the player has let the ball go with the intent for that ball to be in play.

"After a ball has been placed and is in play under this Local Rule, if the player then proceeds under another Rule that provides relief, this Local Rule may be used again.

"For clarification, relief is available within the general area if any part of the ball touches an area cut to fairway height or less."

Preferred Lies

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

What Has England Golf Said?

National Club Golfer has revealed the statement that was dispatched to clubs and county associations in England, which said:

"As stated in the Winter Checklist, the period of preferred lies was due to end on the 30th of April 2024.

"However, due to the unprecedented weather conditions during the 2023/2024 winter period whereby many clubs have experienced rainfall in record numbers, England Golf have decided to provide an extension to the preferred lies period up to 31st May 2024.

"Clubs do have the option of an extension for preferred lies past 31st of May 2024 but they must obtain approval from their county office for further support, with any extension being for specific areas/holes of a course, and not as a blanket approach.”

"England Golf hope by taking the initiative to extend the preferred lies period it will support golf clubs in their course maintenance plans and ensure they can set up their course appropriately whereby their courses will be in an acceptable condition to submit scores for handicapping either through General Play or Competition rounds."

This is further evidence that what we've experienced during recent months is not normal, with the impact on golfers and courses set to continue well into the springtime and potentially beyond.

We sincerely hope that conditions improve as we greet the new season. That would come as the most welcome of reliefs!

Related Content

How Wet Was Your Golf Course This Winter

Do Golfers Give Greenkeepers Enough Credit

How Heavy Rain Has Impacted Golf Courses This Winter

Why Have Golf Courses Been Closing More This Winter

How to Protect Your Golf Course This Winter

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