Rules Corner Blog

Playing from Fescue

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By Rob Ockenfuss, USGA

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.

During the 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 stroke.

Therefore, Lewis was not entitled to bend or move the fescue grass before making her stroke.

For more information on the Rules of Golf, see the USGA’s Rules of Golf Explained series at  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

Rob Ockenfuss is a Manager, Rules Inquiries for the USGA.


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