Qualifying competitions


Well-known member
Dec 3, 2020
To digress.
Has anyone ever come across a satisfactory explanation of how preferred lies supposedly protect the course? The statement is made by authorities and commonly accepted, but what is the justification?

If I am in a bad bit of ground with no preferred lies, I might make that spot worse by taking a divot. If I don't take a divot, I leave it in the same state. Either way there is only the one bad spot. If I'm allowed to take a preferred lie, I play from a good spot. At best, I don't take a divot and leave the one bad spot as before. But if I do take a divot, I add another bad spot to the course. What is protective about that?

The sole purpose of preferred lies is to to give players a better game when conditions are poor. If you want to protect a course, use fairway mats.
CONGU's guidance on the RoH states precisely this in appendix H: "The use of preferred lies promotes fair play for players when fairway surfaces are patchy, wet without standing water, or muddy, whilst the use of fairway mats and artificially surfaced teeing areas helps to protect natural surfaces from damage or be rested."

The R&A committee procedures 8E E-3 also state "...to allow fair play or help protect the fairway."
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