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Patting down grass behind ball when in the rough ...

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... I've always wondered when in the rough if it is allowed to give the grass behind the ball a little pat down with your club to give better access to the back of the ball (obviously, as long as you don't touch the ball) ?       I'd be surprised if the answer wasn't no, but have always been curious ... thx.

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I've heard of people taking a 3 wood and addressing the ball, only to back off and use another club with the improved lie. It's cheating even if that loophole does exist, which it might not. It's impossible to ground your club without shifting grass a bit, but don't press your luck. If anything, it's best to make a habit of hovering the club on bad lies, bunkers, and some do it on any shot. Also, Protip: avoid the rough.

I'm 99% sure it falls under improving one's lie. I've seen people do it, but it's pretty much the same deal as the foot wedge.

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It is definitely against the rules.  I don't have a copy with me, but it is not allowed.

When trying to determine if something in golf is against the rules, always ask if it violates, "Play it as it lies".

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It's a breach of rule 13-2 which forbids improving ball position or lie by moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable obstructions and objects defining out of bounds)

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Originally Posted by Tiikeli

It's a breach of rule 13-2 which forbids improving ball position or lie by moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable obstructions and objects defining out of bounds)



Indeed, and here is more:

13-2. Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play
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,

I guess this answers the OP's question beyond any doubt.

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I've always wondered about this.  I've known that you can't just go and pat down the grass behind the ball for the purpose of improving your lie.  But as was mentioned above, addressing the ball at all in a deep rough lie means pressing some grass in some direction unless you never get your club head anywhere near the ball prior to actual impact.

When in deep rough, is it against the rules to place your club directly down behind the ball just prior to taking your swing?  I feel like I've seen that kind of move from the pros on TV, so is there sort of a gray area there?

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You may rest your club lightly on the ground but not press it down. Resting means supporting its own weight only.

13-2 extract

A player must not improve or allow to be improved:

• the position or lie of his ball, by :

• pressing a club on the ground,

However, the player incurs no penalty if the action occurs:

• in grounding the club lightly when addressing the ball ,

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Originally Posted by mdl

I've always wondered about this.  I've known that you can't just go and pat down the grass behind the ball for the purpose of improving your lie.  But as was mentioned above, addressing the ball at all in a deep rough lie means pressing some grass in some direction unless you never get your club head anywhere near the ball prior to actual impact.

When in deep rough, is it against the rules to place your club directly down behind the ball just prior to taking your swing?  I feel like I've seen that kind of move from the pros on TV, so is there sort of a gray area there?


There is no grey area, just an an area of interpretations.

Once you press your club down you are in breach. If you only let your club rest on the grass you are off the hook.

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"There's a huge clump behind his ball."

Not anymore.

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Originally Posted by Stretch

"There's a huge clump behind his ball."

Not anymore.


That's the day I began rooting against Kenny Perry. I normally look to give the benefit of the doubt but in my opinion he cheated beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Thanks for that Stretch.  And I wear the same Transition lenses as him.  Time for new glasses!!

I always try to find a clump nearby and test how that feels with a practice swing, which I see most pros do.

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As long as you aren't in a hazard you are allowed to ground your club behind the ball.  Here in Georgia I find with thick bermuda rough the act of grounding your club does affect the rough where you ground your club, but as long as you simply ground your club what you've done is within the spirit of the rules.

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This discussion causes me to think of a golfing partner I have played with several times.  Seems his pre-shot routine includes pressing down the club (with the driver you can see it flex slightly) just before he takes the club back.  I always thought this was an unusual part of any pre-shot and not sure why he does it (I'll ask him next time we are paired up).  He does it all the time and it isn't to improve his lie, just a part of the routine (doesn't do it in bunkers).  So if he does this in the rough is he in violation of the rule?  How about in the fairway as he does this every stroke, but I'm sure it isn't his intent to improve his lie, albeit I would think it does in some instances.

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Originally Posted by ghalfaire

This discussion causes me to think of a golfing partner I have played with several times.  Seems his pre-shot routine includes pressing down the club (with the driver you can see it flex slightly) just before he takes the club back.  I always thought this was an unusual part of any pre-shot and not sure why he does it (I'll ask him next time we are paired up).  He does it all the time and it isn't to improve his lie, just a part of the routine (doesn't do it in bunkers).  So if he does this in the rough is he in violation of the rule?  How about in the fairway as he does this every stroke, but I'm sure it isn't his intent to improve his lie, albeit I would think it does in some instances.


In tee box that's perfectly allowed. On fairway I personally wouldn't mind either as long backswing starts immediately after pressing ie. this press would be part of the backswing. In my head this is kind of similar to forward press that you see lots of guys doing to initiate swing. I think you can't do forward press without pressing also downwards, at least a bit

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Originally Posted by ghalfaire

He does it all the time and it isn't to improve his lie, just a part of the routine (doesn't do it in bunkers).  So if he does this in the rough is he in violation of the rule?  How about in the fairway as he does this every stroke, but I'm sure it isn't his intent to improve his lie, albeit I would think it does in some instances.


Pretty sure it doesn't matter why he does it, if it improves his lie (or, really, changes it in any way beyond simply resting his club at address), it is a violation. A pre-shot routine is great and all, but you're still subject to all the rules.

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