May I Remove a Clump of Sand from Behind My Golf Ball?

May I remove a clump of Sand from behind my golf ball?

Things have gone a little quiet on the Rules front lately, might it be the the USGA and R&A have got it right and players are understanding the Rules of Golf better, is it because not many are getting out to play golf in the poor weather conditions being experienced in many parts of the Country or are you all contemplating the introduction of the World Handicap System later in the year?

However I did receive a question during the week, and one which is quite pertinent considering the publicity surrounding one Golfing Professional.

Q: I know that I am not permitted to remove clumps of sand from the apron of the putting green when they are in my line of putt.

However, if the clump of sand is 2 – 3 inches behind my ball is there a penalty if I remove the clump of sand with my backswing (not a practice swing or using the back of the club as a brush!).

The clump of sand interfered with my normal backswing and I did not want to take an exaggerated quick lift up of the club to avoid the sand.

A: When it comes to Sand and Soil they are not regarded as being Loose Impediments unless they are lying on the Putting Green.

They cannot be disturbed or removed before making a stroke at your ball. If this happens you will be in breach of Rule 8.1a, by Improving your Lie.

You will incur a General Penalty of 2-penalty Strokes.

However, in the case of Soil, if it is compacted into a solid clump, for example a plug which has been removed during hollow-tining or an unreplaced divot, it is then regarded as a Loose Impediment and may be removed without penalty.

A recent incident on the PGA Tour highlights this:

Patrick Reed was penalised two strokes for a rules’ violation in the Hero World Challenge third round in the Bahamas in an incident that has led to a lot of criticism of the Masters Champion behaviour. Something that will stay with him for a long time to come.

Reed was penalised the strokes after twice moving sand while taking practice swings in a sandy waste area at the 11th hole at Albany Golf Club, which served to marginally improve his lie.

Reed was deemed to have improved his lie and intended line of play by “removing or pressing down sand or loose soil,” in violation of rule 8.1a

Of course there is no penalty if you move the sand or soil during the downswing and full completion of your stroke or if your Club has Preferred Lies in operation in placing your ball within 6 inches or a width of a scorecard from the original lie of your ball you may legitimately get partial, if not full, relief from the sand or soil that is impeding your stroke.

Try and enjoy your golf under these difficult weather conditions and keep smiling


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