Rule 8 - Course Played as It Is Found

8.1  Player’s Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting the Stroke

8.1a/1 – Examples of Actions That Are Likely to Create Potential Advantage

Examples of actions that are likely to improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. (that is, likely to give a player a potential advantage) include when:

8.1a/2 – Examples of Actions Unlikely to Create Potential Advantage

Examples of actions that are unlikely to improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. (that is, unlikely to give a player a potential advantage) include when:

8.1a/3 – Player Who Improves Conditions for Intended Stroke in Breach Even if Different Stroke Is Made

If a player intends to play a ball in a certain way and improves: conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. for that particular strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball., and the penalty cannot be avoided by restoration, the player is in breach of Rule 8.1a whether he or she goes on to play the ball in that way or plays it in a different way that is unaffected by that improvement.

For example, if a player breaks a branch that interferes with his or her area of stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. or swing for an intended strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. when a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. could have been taken without breaking the branch, a penalty cannot be avoided by playing the ball in a different direction or by taking relief to a different location where that branch would have had no effect on the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.. This also applies if a player broke the branch when starting a holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played: and movedMoved: When a ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so). to a different location within the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing..

See Rule 8.1c for whether a penalty may be avoided by restoring improved: conditions: .

8.1a/4 – Example of Moving, Bending or Breaking an Immovable Obstruction

Part of a fence that is situated out of boundsOut of Bounds: All areas outside the boundary edge of the course as defined by the Committee. All areas inside that edge are in bounds. (and so is not a boundary objectBoundary Object: Artificial objects defining or showing out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings, from which free relief is not allowed.) leans onto the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: and the player pushes it back into an upright position. This action breaches Rule 8.1a, which prohibits a player from improving: conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. by moving immovable obstructions: . The player gets the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. unless the player restores the conditions: by returning the fence to its original position before his or her next strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. as permitted by Rule 8.1c (Avoiding Penalty by Restoring Improved Conditions).

In such a situation, although Rule 8.1a prohibits moving, bending or  breaking the immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that:, the player has the option to take free relief from interference by the part of the immovable obstructionImmovable Obstruction: Any obstruction that: that is leaning onto the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: under Rule 16.1b (Relief from Abnormal Course Conditions).

8.1a/5 – Building Stance by Positioning Object Such as Towel Is Not Permitted

The definition of “stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. ” includes not only where a player places his or her feet to stand, but also where the player’s entire body is positioned in preparing for or making a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball..

For example, a player is in breach of Rule 8.1a for improving: the area of intended stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. if he or she places a towel or other object on a bush to protect his or her body while making a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball..

If a player needs to play from his or her knees because the ball is under a tree, and the player places a towel on the ground to avoid getting wet or dirty, the player is building his or her stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.. But a player is allowed to wrap a towel around his or her waist or put on rain gear before kneeling to play the shot (see Rule 10.2b(5) – Physical Help and Protection From Elements).

If a player has positioned an object in a way that is not allowed but realizes the mistake before playing the ball, the penalty may be avoided by removing the object before making the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball., so long as there has been no other improvement to conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball..

8.1a/6 – Altering Surface of Ground to Build Stance Is Not Permitted

A player is allowed to place his or her feet firmly in taking a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke., but is in breach of Rule 8.1a if he or she alters the ground where the stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. will be taken if altering the ground improves: the area of intended stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke..

Examples of altering the ground that are likely to improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. include:

A player is in breach of Rule 8.1a as soon as he or she has improved: conditions: by altering ground conditions to build a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. and cannot avoid a penalty by attempting to restore the ground conditions to their original state.

The restriction on altering the ground (Rule 8.1a(3)) does not include removing loose impediments: or movable obstructions: from the area of intended stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke., such as removing large amounts of pine needles or leaves from where a player will stand to play the ball.

8.1a/7 – Player May Probe Near Ball to Determine if Tree Roots, Rocks or Obstructions Are Below Surface of Ground, but Only if This Does Not Improve Conditions

Rule 8.1a does not prohibit a player from touching the ground within an area covered by conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball., so long as those conditions: are not improved: .

For example, without improving: any of the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball., when the ball lies anywhere on the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:, a player may probe the area around the ball with a tee or other object to see whether his or her club might strike a root, rock or obstructionObstruction: Any artificial object except for integral objects and boundary objects. below the surface of the ground when the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. is made.

However, see 12.2b/2 if the player probes sand in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. to test the condition of the sand.

8.1a/8 – Altering Surface of Ground in Relief Area Is Not Allowed

Before dropping: a ball to take relief, a player must not replace a divot in a divot hole in the relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors: or take other actions to alter the ground surface in a way that improves: conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball..

However, this prohibition applies only after the player becomes aware that he or she is required or allowed to dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. a ball in that relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:.

For example, if a player plays a ball, replaces the divot and only then realizes that he or she must or may play again from there under penalty of stroke and distanceStroke and Distance: The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6). because the ball is out of boundsOut of Bounds: All areas outside the boundary edge of the course as defined by the Committee. All areas inside that edge are in bounds., is in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., is unplayable or that a provisional ballProvisional Ball: Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be: should be played, the player is not in breach of Rule 8.1a if that replaced divot is in the relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:.

8.1a/9 – When Divot Is Replaced and Must Not Be Removed or Pressed Down

Rule 8.1a(3) prohibits improving: conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. by pressing down, removing or repositioning a divot in a divot hole, which is treated as part of the ground (and not as a loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:), even if it is not yet attached or growing.

A divot has been replaced when most of it, with the roots down, is in a divot hole (whether or not the divot is in the same divot hole that it came from).

8.1b/1 – Meaning of “Ground the Club Lightly”

Rule 8.1b allows a player to ground the club lightly directly in front of or behind the ball, even if that improves: his or her lieLie: The spot on which a ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching the ball or right next to it. or area of intended swing.

“Ground the club lightly” means allowing the weight of the club to be supported by the grass, soil, sand or other material on or above the ground surface.

But the player gets the penalty under Rule 8.1a if he or she improves: the lieLie: The spot on which a ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching the ball or right next to it. or area of intended swing by pressing the club down more than lightly.

See Rule 12.2b(1) (When Touching Sand Results in Penalty) for when a player gets a penalty for touching sand in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed..

8.1b/2 – Player Allowed to Dig in Firmly with Feet More Than Once in Taking Stance

Rule 8.1b allows a player to place his or her feet firmly in taking a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke., and this may be done more than once in preparing to make a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball..

For example, a player may enter a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. without a club, dig in with his or her feet in taking a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. to simulate playing the ball, leave to get a club, and then dig in again with his or her feet and make the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball..

8.1b/3 – Examples of “Fairly Taking a Stance”

Although a player is allowed to play in any direction, he or she is not entitled to a normal stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. or swing and must adapt to the situation and use the least intrusive course of action.

Examples of actions that are considered fairly taking a stance and are allowed under Rule 8.1b even if the action results in an improvement: include:

See 8.1b/4 for when a player gets a penalty for doing more than is necessary to take a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke..

8.1b/4 – Examples of Not “Fairly Taking a Stance”

Examples of actions that are not considered fairly taking a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. and will result in a penalty under Rule 8.1a if they improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. include:

8.1b/5 – Improving Conditions in Teeing Area Is Limited to Ground

Rule 8.1b(8) allows a player to take actions to improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. in the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.. This limited exception to Rule 8.1a is intended to allow a player to only alter physical conditions on the surface of the ground inside the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. itself (including removing any natural objects that are growing from there) whether the ball is teed or played from the ground.

This exception does not allow a player to improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. for his or her tee shot by taking actions outside the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing., such as breaking tree branches located either outside the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. or when they are rooted outside the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. but are hanging over the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. and may interfere with the area of intended swing.

8.1b/6 – Player Smooths Bunker to “Care for the Course” After Playing Out of Bunker

After a ball in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. is played and is outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., Rules 8.1b(9) and 12.2b(3) use care for the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: to allow the player to restore the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. to the condition that it should be in, even if the restoring improves: the player’s conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball.. This is true even if the player’s action is deliberately taken both to care for the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: and to improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball..

For example, a player’s ball comes to rest in a large bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. near a putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:. Not being able to play towards the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:, he or she plays out backwards towards the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. with the ball coming to rest outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed..

In this case, the player may smooth the areas that he or she had altered as a result of playing the ball (including footprints getting to the ball) and may also smooth any other areas in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., whether created by the player or those that were already present when the player arrived to play from the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed..

8.1b/7 – When Damage That Is Partially On and Partially Off Putting Green May Be Repaired

If an individual area of damage is both on and off a putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:, the entire area of damage may be repaired.

For example, if a ball mark is partially on and partially off the edge of the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:, it is unreasonable to allow a player to repair only the portion of damage on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:. Therefore, the entire ball mark (both on and off the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:) may be repaired.

The same applies to other individual areas of damage, such as animalAnimal: Any living member of the animal kingdom (other than humans), including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates (such as worms, insects, spiders and crustaceans). tracks or hoofs marks, or club indentations.

However, if a portion of damage extends off the green: and is not identifiable as part of the damage on the green: , it may not be repaired if the repair improves: the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball..

For example, an entire shoe print that starts on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that: and extends off it may be repaired. However, if one shoe print is on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that: and another shoe print is off the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:, only the shoe print on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that: may be repaired as they are two separate areas of damage.

8.1d(1)/1 – Examples Where Player Is Allowed to Restore Conditions Altered by the Actions of Another Person or Outside Influence

Examples of when restoration is allowed include when:

In all such situations, the player is allowed to restore conditions: without penalty, but is not required to do so.

8.1d(1)/2 – Player Is Entitled to Have Loose Impediments or Movable Obstructions Left Where They Were When Ball Came to Rest

Generally speaking, a player is entitled to the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. that he or she had when the ball came to rest. Any player may move loose impediments: or movable obstructions: (Rules 15.1 and 15.2), but if this worsened conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. of another player, that player may restore the conditions: by replacing the objects under Rule 8.1d.

For example, a player has a downhill putt and picks up loose impediments: between his or her ball and the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played: but deliberately leaves some behind the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:. Another player removes the loose impediments: behind the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played: that might have served as a backstop for the player’s ball.

Since the player’s conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. have been worsened, he or she is allowed to replace the loose impediments: .

8.1d(2)/1 – Examples of Conditions Altered by a Natural Object or Natural Forces Where Player Is Not Allowed to Restore Worsened Conditions

Rule 8.1d does not allow a player to restore conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. that were altered by a natural object or by natural forcesNatural Forces: The effects of nature such as wind, water or when something happens for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity. (such as wind or water).

Examples of when restoration is not allowed include when:

8.1d(2)/2 – Player Is Not Allowed to Restore Conditions Affecting the Stroke When Worsened by Caddie or Another Person at Player’s Request

A player is not allowed to restore conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. if the conditions: are worsened by the player himself or herself.

This also includes when the conditions: are worsened by the player’s caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways: or partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. or another person taking an action that is authorized by the player.

Examples of situations where the conditions: could not be restored include:

8.1d(2)/3 – If Player Enters a Bunker on the Line of Play He or She Must Not Restore Worsened Conditions

Players should be careful when taking actions that might affect the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. because worsening these areas means that the player must accept the worsened condition: .

For example, a player is taking relief from an abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions: behind a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. and the dropped: ball rolls into the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.. If the player creates footprints while walking into the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. to retrieve the ball to dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. it again, he or she is not allowed to restore the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. to its previous condition: under Rule 8 because the player was responsible for worsening its condition: .

In such a case, the player could use another ball for the second dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. (Rule 14.3a) or take additional care when retrieving the original ball to avoid worsening the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball..

8.2  Player’s Deliberate Actions to Alter Other Physical Conditions to Affect the Player’s Own Ball at Rest or Stroke to Be Made

8.2b/1 – Examples of Player’s Deliberate Actions to Improve Other Physical Conditions Affecting His or Her Own Play

Rule 8.2 applies only to altering physical conditions other than conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. when the player’s ball is at rest on the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: or when he or she does not have a ball in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:.

Examples of a player’s actions listed in Rule 8.1a (Actions Not Allowed to Improve Conditions) that would be a breach of Rule 8.2 if taken to  deliberately improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. other physical conditions to affect his or her own play (except as expressly allowed in Rules 8.1b or c) include when:

8.3  Player’s Deliberate Actions to Alter Physical Conditions to Affect Another Player’s Ball at Rest or Stroke to Be Made

8.3/1 – Both Players Are Penalized if Physical Conditions Are Improved with Other Player’s Knowledge

If a player asks, authorizes or allows another player to deliberately alter physical conditions to improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. his or her play:

For example, in stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition., unaware of the Rules, Player A asks Player B to break a branch from a tree that is on Player A’s line of playLine of Play: The line where the player intends his or her ball to go after a stroke, including the area on that line that is a reasonable distance up above the ground and on either side of that line. and Player B complies; both players are penalized. Player A gets two penalty strokes for a breach of Rule 8.1 because Player B broke the branch at the request of Player A. Player B gets two penalty strokes for a breach of Rule 8.3.