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Rule

8

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Course Played as It Is Found
Player's Edition
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8.1
a
b
c
d
8.2
8.3
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Rule 7
Rule 9

Purpose: Rule 8 covers a central principle of the game: "play the course as you find it". When your ball comes to rest, you normally have to accept the conditions affecting the stroke and not improve them before playing the ball. However, you may take certain reasonable actions even if they improve those conditions, and there are limited circumstances where conditions may be restored without penalty after they have been improved or worsened.

8.1
Your Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting Your Stroke

This Rule restricts what you may do to improve any of the "conditions affecting your stroke" (see Definition for the list of things that are protected).

a
Actions That Are Not Allowed

Except in the limited ways allowed in Rules 8.1b, c and d, you must not take any of these actions if they improve the conditions affecting your stroke:

  • Move, bend or break any growing or attached natural object, or immovable obstruction, integral object or boundary object, or tee-marker for the teeing area when playing a ball from that teeing area.
  • Move a loose impediment or movable obstruction into position (such as to build a stance).
  • Alter the surface of the ground.
  • Remove or press down sand or loose soil.
  • Remove dew, frost or water.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 8.1a: General Penalty.

b
Actions That Are Allowed

In preparing for or making a stroke, you may take any of these actions and there is no penalty even if doing so improves the conditions affecting your stroke:

  • Fairly search for your ball by taking reasonable actions to find and identify it.
  • Take reasonable actions to remove loose impediments and movable obstructions.
  • Take reasonable actions to mark the spot of a ball and to lift and replace your ball.
  • Ground your club lightly right in front of or right behind your ball (but you cannot do this in a bunker).
  • Firmly place your feet in taking a stance, including a reasonable amount of digging in with your feet in sand or loose soil.
  • Fairly take your stance by taking reasonable actions to get to your ball and take your stance. But when doing so you are not entitled to a normal stance or swing and you must use the least intrusive course of action to deal with the particular situation.
  • Make a stroke or the backswing for a stroke which is then made. But when your ball is in a bunker, touching the sand in the bunker in taking your backswing is not allowed.
  • On the putting green, remove sand and loose soil and repair damage.
  • Move a natural object to see if it is loose. But if the object is found to be growing or attached, it must stay attached and be returned as nearly as possible to its original position.

See Full Rules For information on permitted actions on the teeing area and in a bunker.

c
Avoiding Penalty by Restoring Conditions Improved in Breach of Rule 8.1a

There are limited instances when you may avoid the penalty by restoring the original conditions before making a stroke. The determination as to whether the improvement has been eliminated will be made by the Committee.

See Full Rules For more information on avoiding penalty by restoring improved conditions.

d
Restoring Conditions Worsened After Ball Came to Rest

If the conditions affecting your stroke are worsened by another player, an animal or an artificial object after your ball has come to rest, you have the ability to restore the original conditions as near as possible. However, you are not allowed to restore the conditions if they were worsened by you, a natural object or by natural forces.

See Full Rules For more information on restoring conditions worsened after your ball came to rest.

8.2
Deliberate Actions to Alter Other Physical Conditions to Affect Your Ball at Rest or Stroke

See Full Rules For more information on deliberate actions taken to alter other physical conditions to affect your own ball, including the Exception that allows actions to care for the course.

8.3
Deliberate Actions to Alter Physical Conditions to Affect Another Player’s Ball at Rest or Stroke

See Full Rules For information on deliberate actions taken to alter other physical conditions to affect another player's ball at rest or the stroke to be made.

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting your stroke or other physical conditions affecting your play so that you gain a potential advantage for your stroke.

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of your ball at rest, the area of your intended stance, the area of your intended swing, your line of play and the relief area where you will drop or place a ball.

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting your stroke or other physical conditions affecting your play so that you gain a potential advantage for your stroke.

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of your ball at rest, the area of your intended stance, the area of your intended swing, your line of play and the relief area where you will drop or place a ball.

Immovable Obstruction

Any obstruction that cannot be moved without unreasonable effort or without damaging the obstruction or the course, and otherwise does not meet the definition of a movable obstruction.

Integral Object

An artificial object defined by the Committee as part of the challenge of playing the course from which free relief is not allowed.

Artificial objects defined by the Committee as integral objects are treated as immovable (see Rule 8.1a). But if part of an integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets the definition of movable obstruction, that part is treated as a movable obstruction.

Integral objects are not obstructions or boundary objects.

Boundary Object

Artificial objects defining or showing out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings, from which free relief is not allowed.

This includes any base and post of a boundary fence, but does not include angled supports or guy wires that are attached to a wall or fence, or any steps, bridge or similar construction used for getting over the wall or fence.

Boundary objects are treated as immovable even if they are movable or any part of them is movable (see Rule 8.1a).

Boundary objects are not obstructions or integral objects.

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are playing. The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where:

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.
Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are playing. The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where:

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.
Loose Impediment

Any unattached natural object such as:

  • Stones, loose grass, leaves, branches and sticks,
  • Dead animals and animal waste,
  • Worms, insects and similar animals that can be removed easily, and the mounds or webs they build (such as worm casts and ant hills), and
  • Clumps of compacted soil (including aeration plugs).

Such natural objects are not loose if they are:

  • Attached or growing,
  • Solidly embedded in the ground (that is, cannot be picked out easily), or
  • Sticking to the ball.

Special cases:

  • Sand and loose soil are not loose impediments.
  • Dew, frost and water are not loose impediments.
  • Snow and natural ice (other than frost) are either loose impediments or, when on the ground, temporary water, at your option.
  • Spider webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.
Movable Obstruction

An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.

If part of an immovable obstruction or integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets these two standards, that part is treated as a movable obstructionBut this does not apply if the movable part of an immovable obstruction or integral object is not meant to be moved (such as a loose stone that is part of a stone wall).

Stance

The position of your feet and body in preparing for and making your stroke.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting your stroke or other physical conditions affecting your play so that you gain a potential advantage for your stroke.

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of your ball at rest, the area of your intended stance, the area of your intended swing, your line of play and the relief area where you will drop or place a ball.

Loose Impediment

Any unattached natural object such as:

  • Stones, loose grass, leaves, branches and sticks,
  • Dead animals and animal waste,
  • Worms, insects and similar animals that can be removed easily, and the mounds or webs they build (such as worm casts and ant hills), and
  • Clumps of compacted soil (including aeration plugs).

Such natural objects are not loose if they are:

  • Attached or growing,
  • Solidly embedded in the ground (that is, cannot be picked out easily), or
  • Sticking to the ball.

Special cases:

  • Sand and loose soil are not loose impediments.
  • Dew, frost and water are not loose impediments.
  • Snow and natural ice (other than frost) are either loose impediments or, when on the ground, temporary water, at your option.
  • Spider webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.
Movable Obstruction

An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.

If part of an immovable obstruction or integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets these two standards, that part is treated as a movable obstructionBut this does not apply if the movable part of an immovable obstruction or integral object is not meant to be moved (such as a loose stone that is part of a stone wall).

Mark

To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either placing a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or holding a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball.

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

Bunker

A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. These are not part of a bunker:

  • A lip, wall or face at the edge of a prepared area and consisting of soil, grass, stacked turf or artificial materials,
  • Soil or any growing or attached natural object inside the edge of a prepared area (such as grass, bushes or trees),
  • Sand that has spilled over or is outside the edge of a prepared area, and
  • All other areas of sand on the course that are not inside the edge of a prepared area (such as deserts and other natural sand areas or areas sometimes referred to as waste areas).
Stance

The position of your feet and body in preparing for and making your stroke.

Stance

The position of your feet and body in preparing for and making your stroke.

Stance

The position of your feet and body in preparing for and making your stroke.

Stance

The position of your feet and body in preparing for and making your stroke.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Bunker

A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. These are not part of a bunker:

  • A lip, wall or face at the edge of a prepared area and consisting of soil, grass, stacked turf or artificial materials,
  • Soil or any growing or attached natural object inside the edge of a prepared area (such as grass, bushes or trees),
  • Sand that has spilled over or is outside the edge of a prepared area, and
  • All other areas of sand on the course that are not inside the edge of a prepared area (such as deserts and other natural sand areas or areas sometimes referred to as waste areas).
Putting Green

The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of your ball at rest, the area of your intended stance, the area of your intended swing, your line of play and the relief area where you will drop or place a ball.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Committee

The person or group in charge of the competition or the course.

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of your ball at rest, the area of your intended stance, the area of your intended swing, your line of play and the relief area where you will drop or place a ball.

Animal

Any living member of the animal kingdom (other than humans).

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of your ball at rest, the area of your intended stance, the area of your intended swing, your line of play and the relief area where you will drop or place a ball.

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of your ball at rest, the area of your intended stance, the area of your intended swing, your line of play and the relief area where you will drop or place a ball.

Natural Forces

The effects of nature such as wind, water or when something happens for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity.