Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ask Linda #286-Touching reeds in hazard

Dear Linda,

Can you clarify what is the situation allowable with touching reeds in a water hazard? Recently my ball found its way into a water hazard, but I was able to enter the hazard as the water levels were low. I could see my ball amongst some reeds which were about a foot tall. I felt that I could actually get my club onto the ball but was unsure to what degree my club could touch the reeds as a result of taking my stance and/or on the backswing.

I think there was an incident at the Hilton Head tournament last year which had this situation arise and I wonder if you could clarify this situation in regard to what is and isn't allowable. You may well have dealt with this previously in all likelihood.


Dear Lulu,

I have dealt with a similar problem in a previous column, but a little repetition, when it comes to the Rules of Golf, is rarely harmful.

The golfer is not permitted to touch the ground in a hazard with his hand or a club [Rule 13-4b]. The Note at the end of that rule adds that you may touch anything growing in the hazard when you address the ball or on your backswing. Reeds would qualify as “a growing thing.”

You may also brush the tops of the reeds (or any grasses) while taking practice swings in a hazard. But you must be careful that such swings do not touch the ground, and that you don’t improve your lie. Should that happen, the penalty is two strokes (loss of hole in match play).

When you take your stance amongst the reeds, place your feet naturally. If you maneuver your feet in order to hold down reeds that will be in the way on your swing, you are improving your lie, which would result in that two-stroke/loss of hole penalty.

Don’t confuse reeds or grasses with loose impediments. Reeds are natural, growing things, and you are permitted to touch them during your backswing. However, if you move loose impediments on your backswing (e.g., pine cones, twigs, leaves), you would be penalized for improving your lie.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.