Question: Stuart Fraser

In a hazard, a lateral water hazard you are not allowed to ground the club ; but if you take a practice swing and for instance you graze the grass on the edge of the water, is there a penalty?


Firstly we need to determine what the term 'grounding a club' means.

Grounding a club is when the 'grass is compressed to the point where it will support the weight of the club.'

Thus provided the player did not ground his club in the water hazard there is no penalty. Similarly if the player touches the grass when he takes his stance or when he takes a practice swing in a water hazard and grazes the grass there is no penalty.

The player must ensure that his actions do not:

  • constitute testing the condition of the hazard
  • improve the lie of his ball
  • improve the area of his intended stance or swing
  • improve the line of play

If the player’s actions breach any of the above when taking a practice swing he would be in breach of the rule and would thus incur a penalty:

  • Strokeplay – 2-stroke penalty
  • Matchplay – loss of hole


In a hazard a player may not touch grass or the like that is not fixed, growing, solidly embedded or adhering to the ball as they are deemed a loose impediment.

  • Penalty: Strokeplay – two strokes, Matchplay – loss of hole.
  • Bernhard

    Dear Fairway Mole,
    wouldnt the note be helpful – just in case the grass, the player touched, wouldnt be fixed?
    It depends if the grass on the edge of the water is fixed as described above or if it is not fixed. When it is not fixed, the grass turns into a loose impediment which may not be touched or moved when lying in or touching the hazard:
    13-4 – Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions
    Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:
    c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.
    Yours sincerely


    • RamsayMedia Admin

      Thanks for your input Bernhard.

  • Brian

    Hi Bernhard,

    You are quite correct. A Note stating that a loose impediment (eg grass not fixed) may not be touched or moved when in in or toucginh a hazard.