Monday, September 23, 2013

Ask Linda #724-Removing loose impediments and dew

Two questions if I may,
During Spring and Autumn, nearby trees will often drop seeds, small twigs, and leaves onto the green. As I understand it, these may be removed only by hand or with the putter. Is it ever permissible to use a towel or hat to fan or swat along the line of your putt to remove these or any materials?

When there is dew on the grass (fairway or rough), a practice swing may leave a track where the dew was removed. Is it permissible to take a practice stroke, then stand behind the ball again to compare the track to your target line? I don't mean purposely creating a track by dragging the club on the grass, just taking a normal practice swing. 

Your blog is most enlightening - thanks for all you do!
Lou from West Virginia

Dear Lou,

Removal of loose impediments
Loose impediments may be removed by any means (towels, hats, and fans are all allowed). However, you must be careful not to press anything down on your line of putt; if you do, you will incur a two-stroke penalty (loss of hole in match play) under Rule 16-1a [Decision 23-1/1].

Removal of dew
The removal of dew that is behind your ball, beside it, or in front of it on the line of play is a breach of Rule 13-2 if there is a reasonable possibility that the removal creates a potential advantage for the golfer [Decision 13-2/35]. If I am reading your narrative correctly, it seems that removing the dew with your practice stroke has given you an advantage in your subsequent play. The penalty is two strokes (loss of hole in match play).

Get in the habit of taking your practice swing at a comfortable distance away from your ball. That will help you avoid all sorts of annoying, avoidable penalties!

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