Yes, the Rules of Golf can be fun. The Referee likes to spend evenings perusing through the Decisions on the Rules of Golf for the strange, interesting and sometimes funny facts.
Here’s the latest I like to refer to as:
Things just keep getting better …
Meaning of “Improve” in Rule 13-2
Q.Rule 13-2 prohibits a player from improving certain areas. What does “improve” mean?
In the context of Rule 13-2, “improve” means to change for the better so that the player gains 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:
· repairs a small pitch-mark on his line of play five yards in front of his ball prior to making a 150-yard approach shot from through the green;
· 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; or
· whose ball lies in thick rough 180 yards from the green, walks forward and pulls strands of grass on his line of play and tosses them in the air to determine the direction of the wind.
Examples of changes that are likely to create such a potential advantage are if a player:
· repairs a pitch-mark through the green five yards in front of his ball and on his line of play prior to making a stroke from off the putting green that might be affected by the pitch-mark (e.g., a putt or a low-running shot);
· 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; or
· pulls strands of grass from rough a few inches behind his ball to test the wind, but thereby reduces a potential distraction for the player, or resistance to his club, in the area of his intended swing.
The determination as to whether a player has gained a potential advantage from his actions is made by reference to the situation immediately prior to his stroke. If there is a reasonable possibility that the player’s action has created a potential advantage, the player is in breach of Rule 13-2.