Ask the Rules Guy
Ask the Rules Guy
Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Every year, the Rules Guy gets thousands of questions via e-mail, Facebook, snail mail and (on one odd occasion) singing telegram. As you may imagine, with all of these questions pouring in from all over the world, there are quite a few duplicates that come my way. In the spirit of the coming New Year, the Rules Guy has decided to clean out his inbox and share with you the most asked question of 2011. While it took many forms, this year's most posited conundrum usually went something like this:

Dear Rules Guy:
I went to drop my ball in the appropriate location. When I got there, I found a bunch of leaves covering the appropriate place for my drop. Figuring that I deserved a fair lie, I decided to clear away some of the leaves before dropping my ball. Was this legal, or did I give myself an unfair advantage?

The reason that this question is asked so often is that it hits on two of the most confused areas of the Rules of Golf: dropping your ball and clearing away loose impediments. Most golfers know that you are allowed to clear away loose impediments (like leaves) as long as you don't disturb your ball. In this case, however, there is no ball to disturb, making the proper action less clear. According to Decision 23-1/6, there is no penalty for a player who removes loose impediments from the area in which he is about to drop his ball. So the next time you're faced with this situation, you'll know your leaf blowing is Rules Guy approved. Keep those rules questions coming in 2012!


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