Golf is a play it as it lies game. The rules are very specific about playing our golf ball down and absorbing the good and poor lies the golf course has to offer. This rule is critical in competitive matches, but is it really that important when playing a friendly match with your buddies? We play winter rules at the courses I play until mid June. The reason for this minor rule adjustment is because the golf courses in my region are waking from a long winters nap and need time to grow without excessive damage caused by playing out of new growth. Therefore, is rolling the ball a good idea or not?
From Golf Canada: “Preferred Lies (or Winter Rules) is a local rule that may be adopted by the committee in charge of a course when adverse conditions are so apparent throughout a course that improving the lie of the ball in a specified way would promote fair play and help protect the turf.” On a point of note according to Golf Canada, if used incorrectly, winter rules can cause more damage to the golf course and skew our handicap index. With all aspects of golf, there are pros and cons to every decision.
Personally, I use winter rules during friendly matches. I am not fussed about it affecting my handicap, but I do pay attention to the where I am rolling my ball. I will sometimes move my ball yards from the original position if I feel I am causing excessive damage to the course. Additionally, I do try to replicate the playing condition with respect to distance and ball path to the green as much as possible. I believe that winter rules are good thing to protect the course in the really part of the growing season. On a side note, I have played preferred lies in competition, however it was called lift, clean, and place.
I will concede one point, winter rules is not designed to improve a players lie if the course conditions. If I can play the ball without damaging the course, then I will not rolling the ball. I am improving my lie without any real need and that is not what the local rule of preferred lies is about.
Rolling the ball is part of most amateur / weekend golfers’ game. I think many players use it to increase their fun on the links. Winter rules set players up for success and the potential for hitting a great shot. I do not have an issue with this since golf is an individual sport where you are your own judge on how you want to play. I have rolled the ball for years and understand when it is permissible and when it is not. It really comes down to a matter of choice. Do you roll your ball during friendly matches?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!