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Play It As It Lies
It's Not Unfair; It's Golf

Learn what play it as it lies means and when or how you can take relief from a bad lie. Rub of the Green

There is almost nothing more demoralizing in the game of golf than hitting a great shot and feeling like you're being penalized. If you have played for any reasonable amount of time you've experienced it. You've striped a ball down the middle of the fairway only to find it in a divot. Or maybe your ball ended up in a foot print that someone before you didn't take the time to rake in the bunker. Maybe you've barely missed the fairway and are lying precariously on some pine needles. Whatever the situation, the rules of the game state that you must "play the ball as it lies."

The Great Equalizer

While some may believe this is the most unfair rule in the game, you have to look at the flip side. Each course is different. Each day is different with varying weather conditions. Even the same course can play different day to day. There are just too many variables in the game of golf since it is played in a natural and unregulated setting. There would be no way to determine what fair would be when it came to allowing one person to move their ball and not another. Especially when there are no referees on the links. So in fact, this is actually one of the most equalizing rules in the game. Everyone is subject to what they call "rub of the green" which simply put is - a tough break.

The USGA Rules of Golf defines Playing the Ball as it lies in Rule 13-1 like this:

"The ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules."

Rule 13-2 defines this further:

"A player must not improve or allow to be improved:

the position or lie of his ball,
the area of his intended Stance or swing,
his Line Of Play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the Hole, or
the area in which he is to drop or place a ball,
by any of the following actions:

pressing a club on the ground,
moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable Obstructions and objects defining Out Of

creating or eliminating irregularities of surface,
removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots or other cut turf placed in position, or
removing dew, frost or water."

You May Get Relief

If you think your ball has landed in an unfair situation be sure to discuss it with your playing partners and always play two balls in when in doubt. Make sure your second ball has a different marking or number and announce which is which to your group. If there is a rules person or committee member on the course try to flag them down quickly to see if you may be able to move the ball and if so how to take relief properly. Be sure to stay up to date on rules such as relief from obstructions and ground under repair. These rules cover very specific situations where you may get relief from an unfair or awkward lie. The most important thing is that you remember that everyone is subjected to the same rule here and that it happens to everyone. Be sure to let it go and focus on the next shot in front of you.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
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