Ball Played as It Lies
All defined terms are in italics and are listed alphabetically in the Definitions section.
The ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules.
(Ball at rest moved – see Rule 18)
A player must not improve or allow to be improved:
• the position or lie of his ball,
• the area of his intended stance or swing,
• the area in which he is to drop or place a ball,
by any of the following actions:
• pressing a club on the ground,
• creating or eliminating irregularities of surface,
• removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots or other cut turf placed in position, or
• removing dew, frost or water.
However, the player incurs no penalty if the action occurs:
• in grounding the club lightly when addressing the ball,
• in fairly taking his stance,
Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:
1. Provided nothing is done that constitutes testing the condition of the hazard or improves the lie of the ball, there is no penalty if the player (a) touches the ground or loose impediments in any hazard or water in a water hazard as a result of or to prevent falling, in removing an obstruction, in measuring or in marking the position of, retrieving, lifting, placing or replacing a ball under any Rule or (b) places his clubs in a hazard.
2. At any time, the player may smooth sand or soil in a hazard provided this is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. If a ball played from a hazard is outside the hazard after the stroke, the player may smooth sand or soil in the hazard without restriction.
Note: At any time, including at address or in the backward movement for the stroke, the player may touch, with a club or otherwise, any obstruction, any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course or any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing.
PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE:
Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.
(Searching for ball – see Rule 12-1)
(Relief for ball in water hazard – see Rule 26)