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Rules of Golf

The USGA, in conjunction with The R&A in St. Andrews, Scotland, writes, interprets and maintains the Rules of Golf to guard the tradition and integrity of the game.The two organizations are joint authors and owners of The Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf.Through an agreement with The R&A, the Rules jurisdiction of the USGA includes only the United States, its possessions and Mexico.The latest version went into effect Jan. 1, 2012, with the next revision taking effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Golf Rule 13 - Ball Played as it Lies; Area of Swing; Line of Play


SUMMARY--play the ball as it lies unless a rule allows you to do otherwise. In other words, play the ball down, winter rules do not apply. By playing the ball as it lies the player may not improve:

*the lie or position of his ball

*the area of his intended swing

*his line of play or an extension of the line of play beyond the hole

*the area in which the player is to drop or place a ball.

This includes not being able to *move, break, or bend anything fixed or growing, *pressing down or removing replaced divots, other surface irregularities, and sand (other than on the green).

EXCEPTIONS: a player is not penalized during the process of taking his stance, making his stroke, or during the backswing of his club anything growing or fixed is bent, broken, moved, or pressed down. In other words, let's say a player backs into a tree to play his ball without the intent or purposely improving his position. There would be no penalty if a branch breaks in the process of fairly taking his stance when backing in to reach his ball.

NOTE---There is also no penalty in eliminating or creating irregularities on the teeing ground.
NOTE---A properly grounded club touches the ground lightly and not pressed down. A club may not be grounded in a hazard if the player's ball is in the same hazard.
NOTE: A player may not build a stance. Remember when Craig Stadler knelt on a towel, that was considered building a stance.

HAZARDS: Include bunkers and water hazards. A player may not do the following to the same hazard his ball is in, (i) test the condition of the hazard, (ii) touch the ground or water of the hazard with a club or other object unless it's during a search, or to prevent the player from falling in, (iii) touch or move loose impediments lying or touching the hazard.

(i) a player may place his clubs in a hazard. (ii) after playing a stroke, the player can smooth sand or soild provided that, if the ball is still in the hazard nothing is done which may improve the lie or assist the player in subsequent play of the hole. The caddie at any time without the players knowledge or authority may smooth sand or soil in the hazard.
(iii) during the backswing of a stroke the player can touch any obstruction or any growing thing (plant or tree)
(iv)touch an integral part of the course with a backswing.

PENALTY: Match Play-Loss of hole; Stroke Play-Two-stroke penalty for any breach of this rule.