Are there situations where you are allowed to adjust the area around your ball? Yes, on the teeing ground it is permissible to step down the grass around your ball or even remove grass from the area within infringing on the basic rule….play the ball as it lies.
One of golf’s basic rules is to play the ball as it lies. Let’s look at what that means…
Throughout the course, however, you are not allowed to improve your lie. Many a player unknowingly break the basic rule. Let’s take Joe, who just landed his ball in a bush. He plunges his way through the area in order to take his stance. As he makes his way to his ball, he breaks down several bushes and branches. Is this a breach of the rule? Yes, the breaking of the bushes and branches may have improved his lie. What if Joe decides to step on a few branches to make way for his swing? This would be considered an effort to improve Joe’s lie and would be a breach of the rule.
Let’s look at Jill who just landed her ball to the right of the fairway in the 2-feet high fescue. In order to take her swing, Jill stomps down the fescue around the ball. Is this permissible? No, that’s a breach of the rule and considered improving the lie of her ball.
What happens when your ball lands behind a tree? Since you cannot improve your lie, it’s time to get creative in order to take your shot. It’s not always the skill of the shot but also the ingeniously of crafting the shot. The rules of golf permit a player to ease him or herself into position to play a given shot or better known as “fairly taking your stance”. Tiger Woods has continued to amaze us with his innate ability to make remarkable shots from extremely challenging lies.