Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ask Linda #1446-Move ball out of divot when “preferred lies” are in effect

Hello Linda,
We are having an argument with my friends, caused by the situation when we played on a golf course, last week. The course was not in perfect conditions. It was wet, and not properly cut on some fairways. Owing to these conditions, the Committee has announced that the Preferred Lies rule is applicable anywhere on fairways.

It happened to me on the back nine, that my ball ended up in a divot, on the fairway. I have chosen to apply the rule of preferred lies. I have announced my intention to my other players of my flight, marked my ball, picked up ball, cleaned it, and then I placed it a scorecard width, outside the divot.

And now the argument about this situation.

My friend believes that I made a mistake, when I have chosen to pick up my ball, which lied in a divot. His argument is based on the general rule, and basic principle of golf, that the ball is played as it lies, and relief from a divot is not allowed.

I am saying that the situation I was in is different, because the rule of preferred lies does not disqualify divots from taking the relief.

I would really appreciate if you could be a judge in this situation. Ideally, if you could send me a reference to a precedent to such situation, or any other source, which would document who was right in the described situation.
Lou from the Czech Republic

Dear Lou,

Rule 33-8 allows Committees to establish Local Rules for abnormal conditions on the golf course. When a course is so wet that the mowers have not been able to cut, the Local Rule for Preferred Lies is reasonable – uncut fairways certainly qualify as an abnormal condition.

Local Rules change the standard Rules of Golf. In the case of preferred lies, Rule 13-1, which requires that the player play the ball as it lies, is not in effect for those areas specified by the Committee. I imagine the Local Rule in place for the day you played went something like this:

“A ball lying on a closely mown area through the green may be lifted without penalty and cleaned. Before lifting the ball, the player must mark its position. Having lifted the ball, he must place it on a spot within one scorecard-length of and not nearer the hole than where it originally lay, that is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.”

I copied the above wording from the Local Rule in Appendix I, Part A, #3b. If you and your friends look closely at the wording, you will see that there are no exceptions to this Rule for divots. It states quite clearly that the ball may be lifted if it lies on “a closely mown area through the green” (which means fairways, aprons, paths mowed through the rough – anywhere the grass is customarily mowed to fairway height).

You were within your rights to lift a ball that was lying in a divot on the fairway. The reference you are looking for is right in the first sentence of Rule 13-1: "The ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules." A Local Rule becomes a Rule when it is adopted by the Committee.

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