Improving Your Lie – Part Two

How does the rule “play the ball as it lies” affect your ability to check a ball to ensure it’s yours? Let’s look at a few scenarios…

When playing golf, it’s key to verify before hitting a ball that it is indeed your ball. If it’s not your ball, you could incur penalty strokes. When your ball lands in the fairway, you can generally easily identify your ball by its logo and markings. In other situations, your ball may be more difficult to identify due to thick rough, fescue, or the like. The rules of golf do allow you to “touch” or “bend” the grasses around your ball to identify it. However, this must be done without improving your lie. In the event your ball is “buried” in the rough, you are permitted to lift ball to identify that it is yours. To do this without penalty, first mark the location of your ball with a tee, lift the ball, identify it, and then place the ball in the original location (identified by the “tee” marking). Before lifting your ball, tell your playing partners what you are going to do so that they can oversee your actions and eliminate any question about the possibility of improving your lie.

What’s the penalty if you don’t comply? Improving your lie by lifting the ball incurs a one-stroke penalty. If you are in a matchplay, it results in loss of the hole. So beware when you have the urge to move or lift that ball to verify it’s yours!

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