Rules Guy: When playing lift, clean and place, are you allowed to give yourself a better angle to the hole?

Golfer placing ball

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

At our course, we sometimes have a preferred lie thru the green rule in effect due to wet conditions or other reasons. Our rule states you can lift, clean and place the ball not more than one clublength from the original lie and it must remain in “similar conditions.” (A ball on pine straw must stay on pine straw.) The problem: Several of our members, when in the woods behind a tree, move the ball to give themselves an open shot, while still, say, keeping the ball on pine straw. How can, or should, “similar conditions” be defined?
—Denny Mahan, Greensboro, Ga.

Rules Guy: Is a borrowed tee considered to be another player’s equipment?
By: Rules Guy

Denny, the problem isn’t what you think it is. The problem is that the Local Rule for Preferred Lies (Model Local Rule E-3) is authorized only in areas cut to fairway height or less in the general area.

Your course has apparently gone rogue! As such, you should ask the committee to clarify the situation, since the Rules of Golf don’t contemplate this scenario.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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