Preferred Lies / Winter Rules

I have been advised that our friends at Glendale have issued notices to assist the public with regard to ‘Preferred Lies’ (otherwise known as ‘Winter Rules’). I hear that some confusion has arisen.

For RPGC we have adopted the Local Rule conditions that are given in the Rules of Golf and these are repeated below. The reason for this adherence is that if we extend beyond the conditions set out in the RoG all our weekly events will be prohibited from being classed as handicap qualifiers, and this is clearly not desirable.

In short, the Preferred Lies rule permits a ball to be marked, cleaned and replaced at a position within 6 inches and not nearer the hole and this relief is available where the ball is on grass cut to fairway height or less.

We are aware that the fairway grass height is high at present so we ask all members to apply a reasonable judgement to determine if a ball is within the boundaries of a fairway or the collar of a green etc. For those that are new to winter conditions I will mention a feature that is critical for me and it is that the relief is available on all fairways and not just the fairway of the hole in play.

RPGC has also adopted the Local Rule that provides relief for an ‘embedded ball’. In this instance the rule applies ‘through the green’ which does include the areas of rough. When relief for an embedded ball is taken the ball may be cleaned and when dropped it must be as dropped as close as possible to the spot where it was embedded. I recall a professional receiving a ‘expensive’ two shot penalty because he mistakenly thought that he was allowed a one club length drop area.

If you should have any queries please just ask – and if your ball is embedded in a puddle caused by an animal scrape in the fairway you can indeed take relief !!


Peter Harrington
29 Jan 2016

Extract From the Rules of Golf

3. Course Conditions

b. “Preferred Lies” and “Winter Rules”

“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 six inches of and not nearer the hole than where it originally lay, that is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.

A player may place his ball only once, and it is in play when it has been placed (Rule 20-4). If the ball fails to come to rest on the spot on which it was placed, Rule 20-3d applies. If the ball when placed comes to rest on the spot on which it is placed and it subsequently moves, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, unless the provisions of any other Rule apply.

If the player fails to mark the position of the ball before lifting it, moves the ball-marker prior to putting the ball back into play or moves the ball in any other manner, such as rolling it with a club, he incurs a penalty of one stroke.

Note: “Closely-mown area” means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.

Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.

*If a player incurs the general penalty for a breach of this Local Rule, no additional penalty under the Local Rule is applied.”

a. Embedded Ball

Through the green, a ball that is embedded may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it
lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green.

Note: A ball is “embedded” when it is in its own pitch-mark and part of the ball is below the level of the ground. A ball does not necessarily have to touch the soil to be embedded (e.g. grass, loose impediments and the like may intervene between the ball and the soil).

1. A player may not take relief under this Local Rule if the ball is embedded in sand in an area that is not closely-mown.
2. A player may not take relief under this Local Rule if interference by anything other than the condition covered by this Local Rule makes the stroke clearly impracticable.

Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.”