Rule 8 - Course Played as It Is Found

Purpose of Rule: Rule 8 covers a central principle of the game: “play the course as you find it.” When the player’s ball comes to rest, he or she normally has to accept the conditions affecting the stroke and not improve them before playing the ball. However, a player may take certain reasonable actions even if they improve those conditions, and there are limited circumstances where conditions may be restored without penalty after they have been improved or worsened.

8.1  Player’s Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting the Stroke

To support the principle of “play the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: as you find it,” this Rule restricts what a player may do 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. any of these protected “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. ” (anywhere on or off the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:) for the next strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. the player will make:

This Rule applies to actions taken both during a roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. and while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a.

It does not apply to:

a. Actions That Are Not Allowed

Except in the limited ways allowed in Rules 8.1b, c and d, a player must not take any of these actions 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. 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.:

(1) Move, bend or break any:

(2) Move a loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as: or movable obstructionMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course. into position (such as to build a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. or 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. the 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.).

(3) Alter the surface of the ground, including by:

(4) Remove or press down sand or loose soil.

(5) Remove dew, frost or water.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 8.1a: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

b. Actions That Are Allowed

In preparing for or making a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball., a player may take any of these actions and there is no penalty even if doing so improvesImprove: 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. 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.:

(1) Fairly search for his or her ball by taking reasonable actions to find and identify it (see Rule 7.1a).

(2) Take reasonable actions to remove loose impedimentsLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as: (see Rule 15.1) and movable obstructionsMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course. (see Rule 15.2).

(3) Take reasonable actions to markMark: To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either: the spot of a ball and to lift and replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. the ball under Rules 14.1 and 14.2.

(4) Ground the club lightly right in front of or right behind the ball.

But this does not allow:

(5) Firmly place the feet in taking a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke., including a reasonable amount of digging in with the feet in sand or loose soil.

(6) Fairly take a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. by taking reasonable actions to get to the ball and take a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke..

But when doing so the player:

(7) Make a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. or the backswing for a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. which is then made.

But when the ball is in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., touching the sand in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. in taking the backswing is not allowed under Rule 12.2b(1).

(8) In the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.:

(9) In a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., smooth sand to care for the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: after a ball played from the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. is outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. (see Rule 12.2b(3)).

(10) On the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:, remove sand and loose soil and repair damage (see Rule 13.1c).

(11) Move a natural object to see if it is loose.

But if the object is found to be growing or attached, it must stay attached and be returned as nearly as possible to its original position.

c. Avoiding Penalty by Restoring Conditions Improved in Breach of Rule 8.1a(1) or 8.1a(2)

If a player has improvedImprove: 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. 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. by moving, bending or breaking an object in breach of Rule 8.1a(1) or moving an object into position in breach of Rule 8.1a(2):

(1) How to Restore Conditions Improved by Moving, Bending or Breaking Object. Before making the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball., the player may avoid penalty for breach of Rule 8.1a(1) by restoring the original object as nearly as possible to its original position so that the improvementImprove: 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. created by the breach is eliminated, such as by:

But the player cannot avoid penalty:

(2) How to Restore Conditions Improved by Moving an Object into Position. Before making the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball., the player may avoid penalty for breach of Rule 8.1a(2) by removing the object that was moved into position.

d. Restoring Conditions Worsened After Ball Came to Rest

If 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. are worsened after a player’s ball came to rest:

(1) When Restoration of Worsened Conditions Is Allowed. If 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. are worsened by any person other than the player or by an 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). or artificial object, without penalty under Rule 8.1a the player may:

Exception – Lie of Ball Worsened When or After a Ball Is Lifted or Moved and Before It Is Replaced: This is covered by Rule 14.2d, unless 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. was worsened when play was stopped and the ball was lifted in which case this Rule applies.

(2) When Restoration of Worsened Conditions Is Not Allowed. If 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. are worsened by the player, 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, the player must not 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. those worsened conditionsConditions 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 breach of Rule 8.1a (except as allowed in Rules 8.1c(1), 8.1c(2) and Rule 13.1c).

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly SubstitutedSubstitute: To change the ball the player is using to play a hole by having another ball become the ball in play. Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where the player is required or allowed to play his or her ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 8.1d: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a.

If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).

See Rules 22.2 (in FoursomesFoursomes (also known as “Alternate Shot”): A form of play where two partners compete as a side by playing one ball in alternating order on each hole., either partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. may act for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. and action of the partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. is treated as action by the player); 23.5 (in Four-BallFour-Ball: A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole., either partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. may act for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. and action by the partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. concerning the player’s ball or equipmentEquipment: Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie. is treated as action of the player).

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

a. When Rule 8.2 Applies

This Rule only covers a player’s deliberate actions to alter other physical conditions to affect his or her ball at rest or strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. to be made.

This Rule does not apply to a player’s actions to:

b. Prohibited Actions to Alter Other Physical Conditions

A player must not deliberately take any actions listed in Rule 8.1a (except as allowed in Rule 8.1b, c or d) to alter any such other physical conditions to affect:

Exception – Actions to Care for the Course: There is no penalty under this Rule if the player alters any such other physical conditions to care for the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: (such as smoothing footprints in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. or replacing a divot in a divot hole).

Penalty for Breach of Rule 8.2: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

See Rules 22.2 (in FoursomesFoursomes (also known as “Alternate Shot”): A form of play where two partners compete as a side by playing one ball in alternating order on each hole., either partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. may act for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. and action by the partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. is treated as action of the player); 23.5 (in Four-BallFour-Ball: A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole., either partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. may act for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. and action by the partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. concerning the player’s ball or equipmentEquipment: Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie. is treated as action of the player).

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

a. When Rule 8.3 Applies

This Rule only covers a player’s deliberate actions to alter physical conditions to affect another player’s ball at rest or strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. to be made by that other player.

It does not apply to a player’s actions to deliberately deflect or stop another player’s ball in motion or to deliberately alter any physical conditions to affect where the ball might come to rest (which is covered by Rules 11.2 and 11.3).

b. Prohibited Actions to Alter Other Physical Conditions

A player must not deliberately take any of the actions listed in Rule 8.1a (except as allowed in Rule 8.1b, c or d) to:

Exception – Actions to Care for the Course: There is no penalty under this Rule if the player alters any such other physical conditions to care for the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: (such as smoothing footprints in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. or replacing a divot in a divot hole).

Penalty for Breach of Rule 8.3: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

See Rule 22.2 (in FoursomesFoursomes (also known as “Alternate Shot”): A form of play where two partners compete as a side by playing one ball in alternating order on each hole., either partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. may act for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. and action by the partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. is treated as action of the player); 23.5 (in Four-BallFour-Ball: A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole., either partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. may act for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. and action by the partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. concerning the player’s ball or equipmentEquipment: Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie. is treated as action of the player).