Golf Digest editors picks
Rule 13

Play It As It Lies

The ball's not always sittin' pretty. Take our quiz to find out if you know how to proceed when it isn't

November 2010

1. Your ball is in play, but it's resting against a fence that serves as the course's boundary. Can you take relief without penalty?

2. You have to play a shot from an awkward lie that requires you to put a knee on the ground. You're familiar with Craig Stadler's famous rules blunder in 1987, so you know you can't put a towel under your knee to protect your pants when you swing. However, can you put a towel down and take some practice swings before removing it for the shot?

3. You're not allowed to repair a spike mark on the green. But can you allow a fellow-competitor to do it before you putt?

4. Your ball is next to a bush. To hit the next shot, you back into the bush, bending and breaking several branches. Are you penalized for improving the area of your intended stance?

5. One foot from the fairway, in slightly higher grass, you find your ball is plugged in its pitch mark. Can you take relief without penalty?

6. Your ball is resting on top of an aeration hole. Can you take relief without penalty?

7.. Your ball comes to rest on the teeth of a rake in a bunker. The ball isn't touching the sand, but is it considered in the bunker?

8. You hit a slice that lands on the green of another hole. Can you pick the ball up, clean it and drop off the green within a club-length of the nearest point of relief that's not closer to your hole, without penalty?

9. Your ball is just off the green on short grass, but there's a sprinkler head between the ball and the hole. You want to putt for your next stroke. Can you take relief so the sprinkler doesn't interfere with your putt?

10. You can't see the flagstick because some Spanish moss is hanging from a tree in your line. Before playing your next shot, can you pull the moss off the branch?

ANSWERS
1. No. A fence defining out-of-bounds is considered fixed. Play the ball as it lies or take a one-stroke penalty and proceed under the rules for an unplayable lie (Definitions: Out of Bounds).
2.
Yes, provided you can restore the ground to its original state (Decision 13-3/5). If the towel were to dry up casual water, you'd violate Rule 13-2.
3. No. It's still considered improving your line (Decision 13-2/36).
4. No. If you follow the least-instrusive course of action in taking your stance, it's OK to bend, move or break anything that's growing or fixed (Decision 13-2/1).
5. No. You're allowed relief from a ball embedded in its pitch mark only if the grass is cut to fairway height or less (Rule 25-2).
6. No (Decision 25/15).
7. Yes. Even though the margin of a bunker doesn't extend upward, an obstruction in a bunker is considered part of the bunker (Decision 13/5).
8. Yes. In fact, you must take a drop off the green, and cleaning is allowed (Rule 25-3b).
9. No. Relief is granted from immovable obstructions such as sprinkler heads only if your ball, intended stance, or swing is interfered with. Line of play isn't covered by the rules unless your ball and the sprinkler head are on the green (Rule 24-2a).
10. No. Moss that's no longer growing can be treated like a loose impediment, but if it's growing from a tree, you can't move it (Decision 13-2/37).

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