Ask the Rules Guy: Clean Sweep

Ask the Rules Guy: Clean Sweep

Rules Guy: Clean Sweep




Rules Guy,
I hit my ball into a water hazard and went to take a drop in the designated drop zone. Before I dropped my ball, I swept away some leaves that were in my way, and which probably would have covered my ball if I'd taken my drop over them. My buddy (and, not coincidently, my competitor) instantly cried foul, claiming that I was improving my lie. I told him he was crazy; how could I have been improving my lie before I even had one?!? Please tell my friend that he was out of line, and that my drop was on target.

— J. Karde, St. Louis, MO


The golf course is definitely one of the few places where a little extra cleaning can get you into a lot of trouble. In this case, however, having to fish your ball out of the drink was penalty enough. According to Decision 23-1/6, a player is allowed to remove loose impediments from the area in which he is about to drop his ball (as long as that spot is through the green) without penalty. As long as you only removed leaves and other loose impediments, you did not violate any rules and were able to drop your ball without thinking twice. Tell your buddy that if he wants to play Rules official he’d better clean up his act.


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