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Preferred Lies


Wales Golf gives authority for preferred lies to be in operation between 1 October and 30 April.

The main purpose of Preferred Lies is to promote fair play when fairways are in an unsatisfactory condition due to lack of mowing and maintenance following adverse conditions, usually during the winter and usually as a result of heavy snows, thaws, prolonged rain or extreme heat. When these conditions are general throughout the course, and the Committee believes that “preferred lies” would promote fair play and protect the course, then the Local Rule under 15.3 below is recommended.

Casual water and plugged balls, whilst most common during the preferred lies period, are not on their own a sufficient reason for the introduction of preferred lies. These issues can be addressed by following Rule 25-1 (Casual Water), Rule 25-2 (Embedded Ball) and Appendix I Part A, 3a (Embedded Ball) of the Rules of Golf. 

Due to the continued inclement weather Wales Golf can upon request offer an extra two weeks extension to the current end of the preferred lies period with a final deadline for preferred lies to be in operation as the 14 May 2018. Requests should be submitted to along with full details and any evidence to support the necessity of an extension.

Outside of this period permission must be sort from Wales Golf for preferred lies to be used in qualifying competitions.

Note:  Preferred Lies cannot be given retrospectively.



The adoption of preferred lies, can allow Qualifying Competitions to be conducted under acceptable playing conditions. Clubs should, whenever practicable, play competitions as Qualifying Competitions during the preferred lie period. Reference should be made to Decisions 1(a) and 1(b) that have been formulated to promote and encourage Qualifying Competitions in the preferred lie period.

When preferred lies are in operation the following points shall be taken into consideration:

15.1    Each Union shall give directions to its Affiliated Clubs defining the period during which preferred lies may be used, if required. Competition Play Conditions will apply notwithstanding the application of a Local Rule for preferred lies as a result of adverse conditions during this period (See Clause 15.3 below). The Local Rule may apply to specified holes only.

15.2    Outside the period specified in 15.1 Competition Play Conditions will only apply when preferred lies are in operation if the consent of the Union or Area Authority has been obtained. England and Ireland delegate the granting of consent for preferred lies outside the specified period to their Area Authorities. Scotland and Wales make no delegation under this clause.

15.3    It is emphasised that preferred lies must apply only when a Local Rule has been made and published in accordance with Appendix 1, Part A, 3b of the Rules of Golf as follows: ’A ball lying on a closely mown area through the green may be lifted without penalty and cleaned. Before lifting the ball, the player must mark its position. Having lifted the ball, he must place it on a spot within 6 inches [150mm] of and not nearer the hole than where it originally lay, that is not in a hazard and not on a putting green. A player may place his ball only once, and it is in play when it has been placed (Rule 20-4). If the ball fails to come to rest on the spot on which it is placed, Rule 20-3d applies. If the ball when placed comes to rest on the spot on which it is placed and it subsequently moves, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, unless the provisions of any other Rule apply. If the player fails to mark the position of the ball before lifting it or moves the ball in any other manner, such as rolling it with a club, he incurs a penalty of one stroke.

Note: ’Closely Mown Area” means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less. Penalty for breach of Local Rule: Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes

If a player incurs the general penalty for a breach of this Local Rule, no additional penalty under the Local Rule is applied‘

Note: Competition Play Conditions will only apply when the specified area is within six inches (150 mm). See Clause 15.3

When a club considers that adverse conditions warrant an extension of the preferred lie period to all, or part, of the course, representations should be made by the Green `Committee or other agreed body within the club to the Union / Area Authority (if delegated) they consider most appropriate. For the purpose of Qualifying Competitions the decision of that Union or Area Authority, if so delegated, should apply to all sections of the club thereafter. The provisions of Clause 15.3 apply.

To ensure a consistent judgement in regard to extension of the preferred lie period it is desirable that an official of the appropriate Union or Area Authority should conduct an on-course inspection, where practicable, before authorisation is granted.

 Decisions relevant to Clause 15

1(a)    Status of a competition when the use of fairway mats is obligatory

1(b)    Status of a competition when artificially surfaced tees are in use

1(c)    Status of a competition when a local rule allowing relief from a plugged ball ‘through the green’ is in operation

1(d)    Status of a competition when competitors are required to lift a ball from the fairway and place in semi-rough.