Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ask Linda #1070-Touch grass in hazard

Hi Linda,
Thanks for your prompt answers to educate the golfers.
We have a few water hazards which are as such dry but are covered by grass of varying lengths. I would appreciate your answers to the following questions:
• How far down I can lower my club-head to address the ball?
• Can I ground my club? Can I rest the sole on top of the blades of short grass? What if the ball lies in 5-6 inches tall grass?
• If playing from the short grass the club-head or shaft touches the tall grass on the back swing, do I count a penalty stroke?
Please do add to your reply if any other point comes to your mind relating to this scenario.
Ever thankful,
Lou from Lahore, Pakistan

Dear Lou,

A player is prohibited from touching the ground in a hazard [Rule 13-4b]. The Note to that same Rule permits a player to touch any grass, bushes, trees, or other living things in a hazard at any time. So what does this all mean in relation to your questions?

Your club is considered “grounded” in a water hazard when the grass has been compressed to the point where it will support the weight of the club [Decision 13-4/8]. If you were to let go of the club, it would not move down. The penalty for grounding your club is two strokes/loss of hole.

You may touch the grass at address, but the weight of the club must be supported by you, not the ground. Lower it into the grass behind the ball, but hover the clubface above the ground.

You may touch the long grass in the hazard during a practice swing (or during your actual swing), but you will get a two-stroke/loss-of-hole penalty if the touching violates any of the provisions of Rule 13-2 [Decision 13-4/4]. For example, if your practice swing flattens the grass behind the ball, you will have improved the area of your intended swing [Decision 13-4/4]. There is no penalty if you flatten the grass during the backswing of your actual stroke, provided you complete the swing; if you flatten the grass on your backswing and discontinue your swing, you cannot avoid penalty.

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