The Golf Rules Dictionary
by Hadyn Rutter


What is it?

the position in which the ball comes to rest on the course.

Basic Rules

  • 1. a ball must be played as it lies unless the Rules provide otherwise (R13.1)

  • 2. a player is entitled to his original lie so if this is made worse by subsequent events he will be entitled to recreate his original lie

  • 3. a player must not improve or allow to be improved the position or lie of his ball by moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed including immovable obstructions and objects defining out of bounds or by removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots, other cut turf placed in position or other irregularities of surface except

    (i) as may occur in fairly taking his stance

    (ii) in making his stroke or the backward movement of his club for a stroke

    (iii) on the teeing ground in creating or eliminating irregularities of surface

    (iv) on the putting green in removing sand or loose soil or repairing damage as permitted by R16.

    (vi) after completion of the storke - even if the player has then to take a drop on the spot where he has replaced/tapped down divots (D13.2/4.5)

    *original lie

  • lie affected by a pitch mark does not qualify for relief unless the pitch mark was made after the player's ball came to rest (D13.2/8)
  • lie affected by sand when another player plays from a bunker - may remove the sand, lift and clean the ball as the player is entitled to a lie the same as when the ball came to rest (D13/2/8.5). A player is entitled to relief when his
      - lie in a bunker is affected by another players stroke (D.20.3b/1)
      - lie in a bunker is affected by another players stance (D.20.3b/2)
      - lie is affected by removal of gallery control post (D.20.3b/3)


  • which is not completely detached is not a loose impediment and therefore cannot be removed or replaced even if it interferes with swing or lie (D.13.2/5)


  • what is reasonably necessary without improving his situation but allowing a stance as normal as the circumstances permit. e.g. a player may back into a branch even if it moves, bends or breaks - but may not deliverately move, bend or break branches to get them out of the way of his backswing or stand on a branch to prevent it interefering with his swing or hook a branch against another to hold it back (D.13.2/1)


  • sandy mound removed by backswing thus improving his lie - no penalty (D13.2/9)

    *on the teeing ground

  • even if done after an air shot i.e. when the ball is in play (D13.2/2)


  • loss of hole/2 strokes

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