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fairly take a stance

Can I back into a tree to take my stance?

Is your ball stuck in some foliage? Steve Carroll explains how to get to it without falling foul of the Rules of Golf

 

What constitutes fairly taking a stance? If you have ever played a round of golf, this has happened to you. Allow this email from Bill McGloin to set the scene…

“A player’s ball rolled through the fairway, through the first cut, and stopped almost under a relatively small fir tree,” he writes.

“The ball wasn’t under the branches but to hit the ball the player had to back into the tree bending it over to take a stance.

“The question is: Is it OK to back into the tree or bush bending it over – and not breaking it – or should they have taken it as unplayable and dropped appropriately?”

Fairly staking a stance

fairly taking a stance

Rule 8.1b deals with what you’re allowed to do when you’re taking actions that improve conditions affecting the stroke. There are nearly a dozen actions that are permissible, but we’re going to set our beady eyes down on number six.

It says that a player can fairly take a stance by taking “reasonable actions to get to the ball and take a stance”.

Does that allow you to bend the branches of a tree or bush? Well, it does if it’s the only reasonable way of getting to the ball.

There is a but, though. You have to use the least intrusive course of action to deal with the particular situation.

Don’t go bending and breaking branches if you can get to the ball in an easier fashion. You’ll be rewarded with the general penalty (two shots or loss of hole in match play) for that bit of senseless vandalism.

And don’t take liberties, either, when it comes to how you set up to the shot. You are not entitled to a “normal stance or swing”.

Got a question for our expert?

Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 and 2023, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.

What do you think of these rules about fairly taking a stance? Let me know by leaving a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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