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preferred lies golf relief

It’s still wet out there – can we extend the period for winter rules?

The rain is still falling but the period for preferred lies has come to an end. Can we change that? Steve Carroll takes a closer look
 

What a winter we’ve had. A parched February was followed by the wettest March in parts of the UK for 40 years. All just in time for the start of the competition season.

Preferred lies, which usually allows players to place their ball on fairways and closely mown areas – more commonly known as ‘winter rules’ – were allowed by England Golf and various governing bodies through a Local Rule until the end of April.

But now we’re into May and, in many places, course conditions are still problematic. So can a club extend that winter rules period?

In their guidance on their website, England Golf say clubs who require an extension should “seek approval from their County, who would look at things on a case-by-case basis”.

One of those to have done this are Yorkshire, who have advised that preferred lies can continue to be used by affiliated clubs until midnight on May 14.

“This ‘local’ decision has been taken based on feedback from clubs across the county and reflects England Golf protocols and the availability of our experienced volunteers on whom we rely,” said county secretary Jonathan Plaxton on their website.

With the competition season now in full swing, and World Handicap System rules allowing acceptable scores to be entered all year round, clubs that are allowed an extension should remember that for scores to count “the Local Rule may only allow the lie to be preferred on closely mown areas, within six inches of the original lie of the ball.

“The Local Rule for marking, lifting, cleaning, and replacing on the same spot may be used anywhere within the general area”.

If your club has allowed you to drop in the first cut of rough as part of its winter course management, you cannot enter an acceptable score for WHS purposes when taking that option.

Have your club been given an extension for the preferred lies rule? How are course conditions looking at the moment? Let me know with a tweet.

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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