Golf Rules – Play the Ball Where It Lies

‘Play the ball where it lies’ is a fundamental rule in golf. It prevents players from using a foot wedge or other ingenious methods to improve their playing position. During competition, I completely agree with this rule; however when playing of fun, I have to admit that I am a bit more lenient.

Back to being in competition. Recently, I received a picture from Golf Meme that I thought was pretty funny. I placed it on my Facebook page so others could share in my amusement. After a short while, I began to think about the rule that governed this situation. Unless you have read the rule book, the solution might not be all that simple.

Here is the situation:

Play it Where it Lies - Rule 24.1

There are many questions to pose for this picture. If you are asking yourself what to do, some of the questions might sound something like:

  1. Do I have to play the ball where it lies?
  2. Can I move the rake?
  3. Can I move the rake without penalty?
  4. What happens if my ball moves?
  5. Is anyone looking? A foot wedge would do the trick!

It is not unusual for golfers to find themselves next too, behind, on, in or touching objects on the golf course. The trick is to know which objects can be moved and which cannot. For this answer we must read:

Movable Obstructions (Rule 24-1)
Movable obstructions (i.e., artificial movable objects such as rakes, bottles, etc.) located anywhere may be moved without penalty. If the ball moves as a result, it must be replaced without penalty.

If a ball is in or on a movable obstruction, the ball may be lifted, the obstruction removed and the ball dropped, without penalty, on the spot directly under where the ball lay on the obstruction, except that on the putting green, the ball is placed on that spot. Rules of Golf – Golf Canada

According to the above rule, any player can move the rake without fear of receiving a stroke penalty. In a tournament, knowing this rule could be the difference between winning or losing your flight. If the ball moves, just place it back and keep playing.

A word of advice, always tell your playing partner what you’re doing to prevent any confusion or possible perception you are doing something wrong!

Reading and understanding the rules of golf are important. I carry a copy with me when ever I play. If you do not have a copy, maybe Santa can bring you one for Christmas.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


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