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winter rules

5 Winter Rules Golfers Break!

Found the actual green instead of the temporary? Can you lift, clean and place? Here are some of the winter rules that amateur golfers often break!

 

Winter golf is very different to playing through the summer, and there are several rules that golfers tend to break.

From preferred lies, to ground under repair, and temporary greens to the dreaded embedded ball. There are plenty of challenges and tricks that winter golf tends to provide.

Our very own Hannah Holden has gone through some of these issues golfers come across with winter rules, and tried to make them easier for us to understand!

What are these winter rules we keep breaking?

Preferred Lies

Most golf clubs implement preferred lies throughout the winter months for golf balls on fairways or closely mown areas.

This rule allows you to lift your ball, clean it and then replace it. That’s usually within six inches of the original spot of the ball and no nearer the hole.

Although it is not a rule that you have to mark it, doing so ensures you know exactly where the ball is, and will help you to keep it in the relief area.

Once you have replaced the ball, you can’t move it again – even if you don’t like the lie.

Embedded Ball

This is not winter-specific, but it tends to feature when there are boggy and muddy areas on the course and in thicker rough.

You need to check whether the ball is embedded, or whether it is just sitting down in the grass. To do that, put a tee in the ground so you know where the ball is, and then check if the ball is below the level of the ground.

If your ball is embedded (plugged) in the general area (not a penalty area), you are entitled to free relief. Put a tee down directly behind the ball, and from there, you have one club length.

Remember to drop the ball within that one club length and no nearer the hole. If you then find yourself on the fairway, you can also take effect of the preferred lies rule as mentioned earlier as well.

Loose Impediments Piled for Removal

Often throughout the autumn and winter, greens staff will collect leaves or broken off branches and stack them in a spot on the golf course to make it easier for them to be removed.

If by chance your ball ends in, or on top of, this pile of leaves or twigs, and they are piled for removal, then you are allowed relief under Rule 16.1a subject to a couple of exceptions.

To do so, find the nearest point of complete relief and then drop in a one club-length relief area – no nearer the hole.

Temporary Greens

The course has temporary greens in use, but you’ve hit your ball long and it has landed on the usual putting surface. What do you do?

You must take relief from the green, as it is a wrong green. You must take the nearest point of complete relief – so the ball, area of intended stance and swing must all be off the wrong green.

You then have a club length from that spot.

Temporary Water

If you have found the putting surface, but there is temporary water between you and the hole, you are allowed free relief. This is known as ‘line of play relief’ as the affected area is in front of you and not where you are standing.

Find the nearest point of complete relief, either on the green or in the general area. If you remain on the putting surface, you must place the ball instead of dropping it from knee height.

There are exceptions. For instance, if there is no obvious temporary water, but you can momentarily see water come up when you stand on the green, you do not get relief.

Are you one of those winter golfers that has got these rules slightly wrong in the past? Is there anything that surprises you in this list? Let us know with a post on X, formerly Twitter!

Matt Coles

Matt Coles

Mention a European country, and Matt will tell you which resorts make the National Club Golfer Top 100s: European Resorts list. He might even throw in who designed the golf course and how many rooms the hotel has got at each one…

Matt got into the game of golf from a young age, following his old man to the local golf club. He fell for the sport, and now can’t seem to go a day without thinking about how to improve his game (Thanks Dad!). Matt has been a member of Howley Hall GC in Leeds since 2020, and is just about managing to maintain a single-figure handicap. He likes to remind people that he once broke 75, but won’t tell people that it was on a shortened course during the winter.

He moved to Leeds after graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class Honours degree in Sports Journalism. Matt joined NCG after almost five years travelling the world with the Professional Squash Association, working on events in all four corners of the globe.

Matt currently plays a Cobra King LTDx driver and RadSpeed 3-wood. TaylorMade monopolise the rest of his bag, with a SIM UDI, M5 irons and both Milled Grind and HI-TOE wedges, along with a Monza Redline putter. He uses a Vice Pro Plus golf ball, because he’s a bit different…

Away from golf, Matt is a Manchester United fan, and a keen runner, having ran the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon (his first and possibly last), in May 2023.

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