Rules Corner

Rules: Fescue Grass Untangled

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By John Van der Borght, USGA

Lake Orion, Mich. – Indianwood Golf & Country Club, site of this week’s U.S. Senior Open, has large areas of long fescue grass throughout the course. When a player hits his ball into one of these areas, it can be difficult to find. 

Frequently, when a player is searching for his ball in an area of long grass, he or some other person searching might accidentally move the ball. Rule 18 tells us that if the player or his caddie moved the ball he would incur a penalty stroke. If anyone else moves the ball there is no penalty. Regardless of how the ball was moved, Rule 18 requires that it must be replaced.  But how does the player replace the ball if he didn’t know where the ball was?

Note three at the end of Rule 18 tells the player how to resolve this situation. It tells the player that “If it is impossible to determine the spot on which a ball is to be placed or replaced, see Rule 20-3c.”  Rule 20-3c says that, through the green, the ball must be dropped as near as possible to the estimated original location but no nearer the hole than that location and it must not be dropped in a hazard or on the putting green.

Remember that any time your ball is moved and you don’t know the exact location, Rule 20-3c will guide you on how to get it back in play properly.

For more information on the Rules of Golf, go to the Rules of Golf page at or watch the Rules of Golf videos at

Written by John Van der Borght, manager of Rules communications for the USGA.


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