Fairly taking a stance

Whereditgo

Journeyman Pro
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
2,222
Location
East Yorkshire, UK
Visit site
I didn't witness this myself, it was related to me by a FC at the weekend and happened to his mate, both of whom are new to the club and official competitions.

The players ball was found in the rough in the middle of a large patch of nettles, the guy was wearing shorts, so as he took his stance he intentionally stood on one of the nettles to press it down to the ground and save himself getting stung. Another member of their 3 ball called a penalty on him for improving the conditions affecting the stroke. The guy involved is renowned as being a rules pedant; he once tried to call a penalty on a player in the group I was in for knocking a few leaves off a tree on his practice swing, firstly he was stood nowhere near his ball while making the practice swing and secondly two or three leaves dropped off a tree that in mid summer must have had 10,000 leaves on! So wrong on both counts in my mind and no penalty. So my ears always prick up when I hear his name mentioned on a rules issue.

My initial thoughts were that the nettle incident was a wrong call, however looking at interpretation 8.1b/4, I'm not so sure? Or, given that there would have been no way to avoid the nettles however he played the stroke, does the bit in (my) bold give him a caveat?

8.1b/4

Examples of Not “Fairly Taking a Stance”

Examples of actions that are not considered fairly taking a stance and will result in a penalty under Rule 8.1a if they improve conditions affecting the stroke include:

  • Deliberately moving, bending or breaking branches with a hand, a leg or the body to get them out of the way of the backswing or stroke.
  • Standing on tall grass or weeds in a way that pushes them down and to the side so that they are out of the way of the area of intended stance or swing, when a stance could have been taken without doing so.
  • Hooking one branch on another or braiding two weeds to keep them away from the stance or swing.
  • Using a hand to bend a branch that obscures the view of the ball after taking the stance.
  • Bending an interfering branch in taking a stance when a stance could have been taken without doing so.
 

SwingsitlikeHogan

Major Champion
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
Messages
32,597
Visit site
I’m confused over this scenario - one I thought I clearly understood.

Player under a young tree with low-hanging branches addresses ball and in his backswing hits low-hanging branch and stops. Nothing has fallen from branch and it is as it was. He addresses ball again and with shorter backswing hits it. Ruling? I thought penalty. A 3rd in my group advised it wasn’t - though it used to be but the rule has changed.
 

Swango1980

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
11,566
Location
Lincolnshire
Visit site
I’m confused over this scenario - one I thought I clearly understood.

Player under a young tree with low-hanging branches addresses ball and in his backswing hits low-hanging branch and stops. Nothing has fallen from branch and it is as it was. He addresses ball again and with shorter backswing hits it. Ruling? I thought penalty. A 3rd in my group advised it wasn’t - though it used to be but the rule has changed.
Why would it be a penalty? Did the player improve his area of intended swing?
 

BiMGuy

LIV Bot, (But Not As Big As Mel) ?
Joined
Oct 9, 2020
Messages
6,803
Visit site
More reasons why playing in club comps for shop credit and plastic trophies is nothing to do with who plays the best golf on the day.
 

Steven Rules

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2022
Messages
605
Visit site
Player under a young tree with low-hanging branches addresses ball and in his backswing hits low-hanging branch and stops. Nothing has fallen from branch and it is as it was. He addresses ball again and with shorter backswing hits it. Ruling? I thought penalty. A 3rd in my group advised it wasn’t - though it used to be but the rule has changed.
Rule 8.1a. The player must not move, bend or break any growing or natural attached object if such action improves the conditions affecting the stroke. From your description, nothing was moved, bent or broken and no conditions were improved as a result of the non-moving, non-bending or non-breaking. No penalty.

I am not sure that hitting a branch on a backswing was ever a penalty but I'll happily defer to those with longer memories than mine.

Because I thought it was…simply hitting branches on the line of your intended backswing could easy improve things. That he didn’t would not indicate that there was no intent.
In this instance, 'intent', or what 'could' have happened doesn't come into it.
 

SwingsitlikeHogan

Major Champion
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
Messages
32,597
Visit site
AFAIK, this rule was always about outcome. And if any branch breaking is a result of the stroke itself, no penalty either.
Point was that he never completed his stroke after clattering the branches. I must have been thinking about what happens if one or more leaves or other growth had been broken or knocked off the tree.
 
Last edited:

rulie

Head Pro
Joined
Sep 2, 2015
Messages
1,937
Visit site
Point was that he never completed his stroke after clattering the branches. I must have been thinking about what happens if one or more leaves or other growth had been broken or knocked off the tree.
It's only outcome based as noted above. If two leaves fall off a branch of a birch tree, it's not an automatic breach. The question is, "was the area of intended swing improved?" Two leaves of a birch tree or two needles of a pine tree are unlikely to have caused an improvement. In other situations, one leaf might result in an improvement (think rhubarb leaves).
 

Colin L

Tour Winner
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
5,300
Location
Edinburgh
Visit site
How many people in your clubs weekend comp do you think are playing off a legitimate handicap and playing by the rules.

Thread after thread on here would suggest not many.

Legitimate handicap? All of them. Playing by the rules? Virtually all of them as far as good intention goes. Rules breaches because of ignorance or misunderstanding? - no idea but there will be some. Also no idea what any of that has to do with whether it was a breach of a rule to hit a branch with your backswing.
 

salfordlad

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 16, 2020
Messages
920
Visit site
The "leaves" examples were part of an old decision pre-2019 (excerpt below), the principles of which are unchanged, as Rulie notes.

Rule 13-2 prohibits a player from improving certain areas. What does
“improve” mean?
A. In the context of Rule 13-2, “improve” means to change for the better
so that the player creates 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.
Examples of changes that are unlikely to create such a potential advantage
are if a player:...........

• accidentally knocks down several leaves from a tree in his area of
intended swing with a practice swing, but there are still so many leaves
or branches remaining that the area of intended swing has not been
materially affected; ........

Examples of changes that are likely to create such a potential advantage
are if a player: ......

• accidentally knocks down a single leaf from a tree in his area of intended
swing with a practice swing, but, as this was one of very few leaves that
might either interfere with his swing or fall and thereby distract him, the
area of intended swing has been materially affected;
 

SwingsitlikeHogan

Major Champion
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
Messages
32,597
Visit site
The "leaves" examples were part of an old decision pre-2019 (excerpt below), the principles of which are unchanged, as Rulie notes.

Rule 13-2 prohibits a player from improving certain areas. What does
“improve” mean?
A. In the context of Rule 13-2, “improve” means to change for the better
so that the player creates 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.
Examples of changes that are unlikely to create such a potential advantage
are if a player:...........

• accidentally knocks down several leaves from a tree in his area of
intended swing with a practice swing, but there are still so many leaves
or branches remaining that the area of intended swing has not been
materially affected; ........

Examples of changes that are likely to create such a potential advantage
are if a player: ......

• accidentally knocks down a single leaf from a tree in his area of intended
swing with a practice swing, but, as this was one of very few leaves that
might either interfere with his swing or fall and thereby distract him, the
area of intended swing has been materially affected;
I shall apologise to my mate for making the observation as I now know I got it wrong. BTW - as I was unsure I waited until we had completed the hole before raising my observation with him and the other two in our group - he’d blobbed the hole in any case.
 
Top