No.29 Improving Line of Play
 
 

 
 
Question 1:
In front of a player's ball and on their line of play there is a divot, which is folded over but not completely detached. May the player replace or remove the divot before playing?

Answer 1: Yes.

Note: Whilst a divot that is not completely detached is not a loose impediment it may be removed or replaced, unless it improves the player's line of play to the extent that they will gain a potential advantage in doing so. Decision 13-2/0.5 (Rule amended 1st January, 2012).

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Question 2:
In front of a player's ball and on their line of play there is a detached divot.
a) May the player remove the loose divot before pitching to the putting green?
b) May the player replace the loose divot before pitching to the putting green?
c) May the player repair the divot hole or other similar surface damage before pitching to the putting green?


Answer 2:
a) Yes, a detached divot is a loose impediment and may be removed without penalty anywhere on the course, except when both it and the player's ball lie in or touch the same hazard*.
b) and c) Yes, providing  the replacement of the divot does not improve the player's line of play to the extent that they will gain a potential advantage in doing so.


Note: Answers b) and c) would probably be different if the player was going to run their ball up to the putting green.

* A detached divot that has been replaced (roots down) may not be moved if it interferes with the player's lie,  area of intended stance or swing, or line of play (Rule 13-2).

Part of the answer to Decision 13-2/0.5 states;

 
In the context of Rule 13-2, "improve" means to change for the better so that the player gains a potential advantage with respect to the position or lie of his ball, the area of his intended stance or swing, his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole, or the area in which he is to drop or place a ball. Therefore, merely changing an area protected by Rule 13-2 will not be a breach of Rule 13-2 unless it creates such a potential advantage for the player in his play.
 

 
Another 'Rhodes Rules School' Q&A will follow next week,

 
Good golfing,
 
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