Preferred Lies and "Winter Rules"
by Tim Kilty
This time of year, you may be playing an event under the above mentioned local rule, also referred to as Lift, Clean and Place. While the purist would scoff at this local rule, conditions could be such that this is the only way the competition could be played in a fair manner. Many of the PGA Tour events are played under this local rule and in most cases artificially low scores are made.
As with all local rules, it must be contained in the Conditions of the Competition, hard copies of which are usually available in the locker room, pro shop and most likely, on the starting tee. Please note that the rule applies only to the closely mown area, namely the fairway of the hole being played. It is also very important that the ball be marked before being lifted.
Once THE ball has been lifted and cleaned, it must be placed on a spot within a specific area, i.e. six inches, one club length, etc., and not nearer the hole. When the ball is placed and is at rest it is IN PLAY. It cannot be replaced.
Since this rule can be somewhat difficult to understand, we strongly recommend that you read the rule in its entirety. It is located in the later part of the rulebook in Appendix I, 4 c. "Preferred Lies" and "Winter Rules". This should clear out the cobwebs!