Ball Played As It Lies

Paul Morrone |

In the United States Golf Association's "Rules of Golf," Rule No. 13 is referred to as "Ball Played As It Lies." This rule prohibits improving the lie, the area intended for making a swing, the line of play or the area in which the ball is to be dropped or placed. In general, a golf ball should be played where it lands without any change to the overall situation. Besides the exceptions built into the rule, relief also may be granted by officials on a case-by-case basis. Of course rules are made to be broken and there are exceptions to this rule where the golfer is not assessed a penalty. In casual golf, many golfers improve their lie of the golf ball by rolling the ball with the head of the golf club to “fluff it up” so the ball is easier to hit. This is an absolutely acceptable practice for the casual golfer who is not part of any formal competitive tournament and you are merely playing to have some fun AND that is agreed upon by the players in the group. On the other hand, some golfers (and many golfers have played with this type) would rather give up their first born than improve their lie. After all, it is against the rules.

When I first started playing golf I also had to learn the rules of the game as well just like any sport. Many of those quirky rules I learned along the way as I played with different people and certain playing situations would arise. Many rounds of golf never have a rules question to deal with. The "Ball Played As It Lies" (or playing it down) rule does come into play with every shot other than the tee shot… long as you play it as it lies. I am very diligent about this rule in the heart of golf season and will assess a penalty against myself if I have to improve my lie because of a rock, roots from trees, branches or whatever else from Mother Nature that my golf ball ends up near. For a casual golfer, improving the lie can be the difference of being able to hit the ball. For the skilled golfer or professional, they practice hitting the ball from awkward lies because in any round of golf you never know where your ball will end up.

In the early part of the golf season, especially during the first few rounds, I am definitely guilty of rolling the ball to get a better lie. After all it is a game and I am not playing for money or standings in a league or tournament. I am getting the “rust out” of my swing from the winter. Also, depending who I am playing with determines how lenient we are with the rules. The point is I know when truly adhering to the rules should be enforced and when it does not matter.  Boy that sure does sound similar to life.

What I like most about the game of golf is it is a game of character, honesty and integrity-a gentlemen’s game. But, I have seen many a golfer on the other side of the fairway casually roll the ball with their club or gently kick the ball with the toe of their shoe to get a better lie. They thought no one was watching and then they hit a great shot because of the improved lie. Meanwhile I am hacking at my ball trying to avoid a root so I do not break a club or get hurt. Are you kidding me?

So back to the life analogy, play it as it lies in your life when it truly matters that you adhere to the rules and there are consequences for your actions. Otherwise improve your lie because life is too short!

Until The Next Tom’s Take…