A Golf Lesson in Winter Rules

Definition: “Winter rules” (also called “preferred lies”) is a condition that exists by local rule only and under which golfers are, on certain parts of a golf course, allowed to improve the lie of their golf ball without penalty.”Winter rules” is not codified in any of the 34 rules that make up the Rules of Golf; it exists only in an appendix to the rules, where there is a sample local rule for use by courses, clubs or committees.Generally, winter rules are put into place during, of course, the winter, when adverse weather conditions can impact the golf course itself. Or winter rules – a k a, preferred lies – might be put into place at any time of year on a course that is suffering damage; for example, if extreme drought kills large swathes of fairway.

Here’s how it works: You show up a golf course and are told (or read via signage) that “winter rules are in effect today.” You tee off No. 1 and hit the fairway. But when you reach your ball, you discover it sits on bare hardpan despite being in the fairway. Under the most common traditions for preferred lies, you have the right to move that ball up to six inches in any direction to improve the lie, without penalty (picking it up and placing it).

Remember as well that this time of year you are more likely to be coming up against ‘casual water’ where you can also get a free drop!

Don’t forget the rules are there to help you as well as penalise you, there are times you can really make the rules work in your advantage, so make sure you read up and learn them all.

Comments are closed.