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Avoid winter rules to become better golfer
Graham Lewis - photo by Photo provided.

Golf is fun, whether playing solo or with others. Having a basic understanding of the game’s rules makes it easier to enjoy the experience and improve your skills. In this periodic column, I provide brief explanations of golf rules and answer commonly asked questions.



Winter rules basically means preferred lies. This means that you may lift, clean and place your ball when it is in the fairway of the hole you are playing. You are usually required to place the ball within one club length and no nearer the hole and keep it in the fairway. Six inches is sometimes used instead of one club length.
Why do so many golfers use winter rules all year long?

Winter rules have become a habit for many golfers. Unless we are instructed to play the ball as it lies, we try to get the best lie we can. We justify this under the pretense that the course is not in good enough condition to play the ball down (as it lies). Adverse conditions (usually occurring in the winter months) were the reason that the concept of winter rules is included in the USGA Rules of Golf. Most of us don’t play a lot of golf on manicured courses where almost every lie in the fairway is as good as we would like. In many cases we are never satisfied with the condition of the course, so we play winter rules all year.



If you want to become a better golfer, play the ball as it lies. You may not score better, but you will learn how to hit better shots from not-so-perfect lies.


There are a number of golfers who never use winter rules.

As always, have fun playing and practicing the game of golf. E-mail me at with questions and suggestions.


Lewis is a certified teaching professional and a member of the United States Golf Teachers Federation.

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