One of the
defining features of Sebonack Golf Club is the tall fine fescue grass that
lines every hole and is part of the challenge presented by the course. Players
will likely encounter a difficult lie if their ball strays from the fairway.
first round, Stacey Lewis’ ball came to rest in the fescue grass on the second
hole. She asked the referee with her group whether she could move the fescue lying
over and around her ball.
In part, Rule 13-2
states that a player must not improve
or allow to be improved the position or lie of her ball, the area of her
intended stance or swing, her line of play, or a reasonable extension of that
line beyond the hole by moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed.
The word “improve,”
emphasized in the previous paragraph, means to change for the better so that
the player gains a potential advantage with respect to her lie, stance or swing
or line of play – see Decision
13-2/0.5. Moving the fescue grass (something growing) over and around
Lewis’ ball could potentially affect her lie or potentially reduce the
resistance to her club on the backswing or through impact and allow her a
better view of the ball.
Furthermore, Rule 12-1
says that a player is not necessarily entitled to see her ball when making a
Lewis was not entitled to bend or move the fescue grass before making her
For more information on the Rules of
Golf, see the USGA’s Rules of Golf Explained series at http://www.usga-rules.com/. There are two videos on Rule 13-2, titled “Playing
the Course as You Find It” (Part 1 and Part 2).
The USGA will provide up to two Rules of Golf books for
minimal shipping and handling charge. Please contact the USGA Order Department
at 1-800-336-4446, Monday
through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) or go to the USGA Shop on usga.org.
Rob Ockenfuss is a Manager, Rules
Inquiries for the USGA.