Ball Played as it Lies


The ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules.

See also: Ball at rest moved

Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance of Swing, or Line of Play

A player must not improve or allow to be improved:

  • the position or lie of his ball,
  • the area of his intended stance or swing,
  • his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole, or
  • the area in which he is to drop or place a ball,
by any of the following actions:

  • moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable obstructions and objects defining out of bounds),
  • creating or eliminating irregularities of surface,
  • removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots or other cut turf placed in position, or
  • removing dew, frost or water.
However, the player incurs no penalty if the action occurs:

  • in fairly taking his stance,
  • in making a stroke or the backward movement of his club for a stroke and the stroke is made,
  • on the teeing ground in creating or eliminating irregularities of surface (Rule 11-1), or
  • on the putting green in removing sand and loose soil or in repairing damage (Rule 16-1).
The club may be grounded only lightly and must not be pressed on the ground.

Exception: Ball in hazard - see Rule 13-4.

Building Stance

A player is entitled to place his feet firmly in taking his stance, but he must not build a stance.

Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions

Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:

a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;

b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club; or

c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.

1. Provided nothing is done that constitutes testing the condition of the hazard or improves the lie of the ball, there is no penalty if the player (a) touches the ground in any hazard or water in a water hazard as a result of or to prevent falling, in removing an obstruction, in measuring or in retrieving, lifting, placing or replacing a ball under any Rule or (b) places his clubs in a hazard.

2. After making the stroke, the player or his caddie may smooth sand or soil in the hazard, provided that, if the ball is still in the hazard or has been lifted from the hazard and may be dropped or placed in the hazard, nothing is done that improves the lie of the ball or assists the player in his subsequent play of the hole.

Note: At any time, including at address or in the backward movement for the stroke, the player may touch with a club or otherwise any obstruction, any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course or any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing.

Penalty for breach of rule:
Match play - Loss of hole; Stroke play - Two strokes.

See also: Searching for ball

See also: Relief for ball in water hazard