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.
Question: Pete and Randy are playing a casual game of golf. On the fifth hole, Pete finds his ball near a tree and is concerned that tree roots may be just below the surface and he could injure himself. Pete proceeds to test the area around his ball by probing with a tee to make sure that there are no roots or rocks below the surface. Randy tells Pete that since they are not playing in a tournament, it is OK to probe. He further adds that if they were in a tournament, he would not be allowed to probe. Is Randy correct?
Answer: No. The Rules of Golf allow you to probe the area around your ball provided the lie of the ball, area of the intended stance or swing or the line of play is not improved (Rule 13-2) and the ball is not moved (Rule 18-2).
Tip: The intent of this rule is to help the golfer avoid unnecessary injury. Take advantage of this rule, but remember that if you find a root or rock under the surface, you may not remove it but can take an unplayable lie with the penalty of one stroke.
Sapelo Hammock is scheduled to re-open June l. As always, have fun playing and practicing golf. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or suggestions.
— Graham Lewis