Do You Roll Your Golf Ball?

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.

Winter Rules – should I or shouldn’t I

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!


6 thoughts on “Do You Roll Your Golf Ball?

  1. I not only do it, I often advocate for it. If you want to get better you have to learn how to hit the ball from every condition sure, but you first have to learn to hit the ball period. I told a few even to tee up every shot. Whatever allows them to hit the ball down the fairway is good enough when you’re just starting out and especially so if you’ve not gotten any proper instruction first. I don’t care all that much for 5 hour rounds.

    Right now I’m working on a swing change myself. So right now, I have no problem giving myself a better lie. But I didn’t join in the skins game tonight doing that. And I’m not recording scores doing that because that would be self defeating and just plain silly. I’m out enjoying the evening breezes and working on my game a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin,

      You are right about learning to hit the ball first before worrying about hitting the ball from tough lies. There is no short way to achieve this, but on the journey, making things easier is not a bad thing.

      Cheers Jim


  2. Jim, unless the rules of a competition specify otherwise, I play it down. I feel it keeps me honest.
    During weekend friendlies, I see fellow players rolling it in the fairway and the rough. As long as there’s nothing on the line, I’m fine with it, and as long as they don’t tell me that 85 they shot was a 79 🙂



    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      I do not see the issue with rolling the ball until I get into a competition. Then I follow the rules of the event all the way. I play in only one net event a year and it was a match play. So, the lower the score my opponents report the better for me. 😉

      As far as what others say there score is, I do not really care what they report. If we are playing for money, then we establish the rules of playing before we tee it up. I had to stop worrying about others score because it used to get under my skin. Now, I just worry about my score.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Unfortunately rolling the ball or “tipping it up” has become the standard. I agree that in early season conditions or recreational golf it is OK but it has morphed into SOP 24/7. Its a slippery slope that’s hard to change. My estimate is 4 to 5 strokes/round are gained by this insidious practice that make handicaps non-relevant when travelling to different courses where rolling the ball is seldom practiced.
    My golf rant of the day

    Liked by 1 person

    • BMc

      We are on the same page. When you play in a tournament and force players to play their ball down, they are surprised at how poorly they play. Unfortunately, I can see the habit of of rolling the ball, as you indicate, being the norm and new players thinking it is okay all the time. Rant accepted 😉

      Cheers Jim


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