Golf Rule 13, Ball Played As It Lies

    Golf Rule 13, Ball Played as it Lies – Simplified Version




    13-1. The ball must be played as it lies unless the rules for a particular situation say otherwise.

    13-2. A player cannot improve: his lie by changing the ball’s position; the area of his stance or swing; his line of play; the area where he is taking a drop or placing his ball. These actions are prohibited: pressing the ground with a club; moving, bending or breaking a fixed or growing object (e.g., a tree branch); altering the ground’s surface; moving or pressing down soil or repaired divots; sweeping away dew or other moisture.

    There are certain instances where the above actions are allowed without penalty: grounding the club lightly behind the ball; taking a stance in a normal manner; making a swing, provided the ball is hit; altering imperfections or removing moisture on the teeing ground; removing loose soil or repairing the putting green.

    Exception: When the ball lies in a hazard (see rule 13-4).

    Examples of actions prohibited by rule 13-2: Accidentally breaking a tree limb on a practice backswing, clearing the obstacle from the path of the swing; pulling up a tuft of grass from behind the ball to test the wind and removing a possible impediment to the club; when off the green, fixing a pitch mark on the fringe when the mark is on the intended line of a putt or running shot.

    Examples of actions allowed by rule 13-2: Breaking a tree limb on a practice backswing, as long as the limb would not have interfered with the actual swing; pulling grass to test the wind away from the swing’s path; fixing a pitch mark on the line of a shot, with no intention of rolling the ball over the repaired area.

    13-3. The player is allowed to take a firm stance, but may not build a stance (e.g., shuffle the ground under his feet to stabilize his position).

    Examples of actions prohibited by rule 13-3: Bending a low-lying branch and standing on it while swinging; intentionally bending a branch with the stance when a reasonable stance could be taken with the branch in place.

    Examples of actions allowed by rule 13-3: Backing into a bush if there’s no other way to stand and play the shot, even if part of the bush bends or breaks; bending a branch in order to access a ball and play a shot.

    13-4. Before hitting a ball lying in a hazard (bunker or water), the player can’t touch or test the hazard’s surface with his club or hand, and may not touch or move a loose impediment in the hazard.

    Exceptions: As long as the player doesn’t test the hazard’s condition or improve his lie, he isn’t penalized for: touching the surface or a loose impediment by falling or preventing a fall; removing an obstruction; marking his ball’s position or moving it in accordance with the rules; or placing his clubs in the hazard. Players are allowed to smooth sand or soil in a hazard if the sole purpose is course upkeep, and their lie or line isn’t improved in any way.

    Penalties for violating Rule 13: Match play – loss of hole. Stroke play – two strokes.

    13-1. General
    The ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules.

    (Ball at rest moved – see Rule 18)

    13-2. Improving Lie, Area Of Intended Stance Or 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:pressing a club on the ground, 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 grounding the club lightly when Addressing The Ball, in fairly taking his Stance, in making a Stroke or the backward movement of his club for a Stroke and the Stroke is made, in creating or eliminating irregularities of surface within the Teeing Ground or in removing dew, frost or water from the Teeing Ground, or on the Putting Green in removing sand and loose soil or in repairing damage (Rule 16-1).


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

    13-3. Building Stance
    A player is entitled to place his feet firmly in taking his stance, but he must not build a stance.

    13-4. 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.


    Exceptions: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 or loose impediments 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 marking the position of, retrieving, lifting, placing or replacing a ball under any Rule or (b) places his clubs in a hazard.
    2. At any time, the player may smooth sand or soil in a hazard provided this is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. If a ball played from a hazard is outside the hazard after the stroke, the player may smooth sand or soil in the hazard without restriction.
    3. If the player makes a stroke from a hazard and the ball comes to rest in another hazard, Rule 13-4a does not apply to any subsequent actions taken in the hazard from which the stroke was made.


    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.

    (Searching for ball – see Rule 12-1)

    (Relief for ball in water hazard – see Rule 26)