What are Preferred Lies In Golf | 2023| Detailed Guide

The term “preferred lies” refers to the areas of a golf course where you, as a player, are permitted to alter your lie without incurring a cost. It is a municipal regulation that only applies during the winter. Only if you are informed when you arrive at the golf course is it in force.

What are preferred lies in golf? is an essential golf term that most experts and blogs need to acknowledge for beginner golfers. Therefore, here at Top Golf Advisor, we’re going to ensure we clear the concept in simple words and easy to understand way for all aspiring and amateur golfers. 

What are Preferred Lies in Golf

What do Preferred lies Refer to?

What does playing preferred lies mean in golf? You always mark your ball first in a case involving favored lies. “Preferred lies” refers to situations where a golfer can pull up a ball that has landed on a closely mowed patch and move it to a better position but not closer to the hole. 

Any portion of the course cut to fairway height or lower, including paths through the rough and the fringe/apron surrounding the green, is referred to as a closely mown region. The player can only choose a preferred lie if the ball is on a closely mowed area.

What Are preferred lies in golf and why do they exist?

Imagine an extremely severe drought affecting a golf field. There are bare ground spots throughout the fairways, and the fairways are cooked. 

The “Preferred Lies” (local) regulation may be used by course management, a committee, or the club to help its golfers find a decent lie in those damaged fairways.

The only person with the right to choose their ball’s life is that player. It is insufficient to state that “winter norms apply” or “preferred lies in operation.” A player cannot judge on their own whether the regulation is in force.

How To Handle Preferred Lies as a beginner?

For beginners it is important to know what are preferred lies in golf? The ball’s location needs to be marked first. For example, you can do this using a coin, a pitchfork, or a tree. The ball can then be lifted and cleaned if required. 

The ball must then be (re)placed in the designated region, e.g., within six inches, a scorecard’s length, or even one club’s length from the hole (for example, common on the PGA Tour). The local commission determines this separation. 

Therefore, it is essential to verify it beforehand to prevent incurring an extra stroke penalty. 

As soon as the ball touches the ground, play begins. The player would receive a penalty stroke for “moving his ball in play” if he picked it up again and moved it.

Moreover, preferred lies and other winter guidelines are always local rules. You won’t find them in any official rule book, so there’s a bonus for beginners as an excuse. 

“Long Form” Is the New Preferred Lies Term In Golf

The Preferred Lies rule has been modified with the 2019 Rules of Golf amendment.

Clubs should utilize the long form on their notice boards and signage. The scorecard gets used in the short form.

What are Preferred Lies In Golf; Long Form:

When a player’s ball is in a general area that has been cut to fairway height or less, the player may take one free reprieve by putting the original ball—or another ball—in this reprieve area and playing it: 

  • Point of Reference: Location of the First Ball
  • 6 inches from the reference point is the size of the relief area, but with the following restrictions:
  •  Limitations on the location of the Relief Area 
  •  It must be in the general area 
  •  It must not be closer to the hole than the reference point. 

Short Form 

The player may choose the lie within 6 inches if their ball is inside the general area that has been cut to fairway height or less.

Please consult the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf for the complete language of any Model Local Rules mentioned. Unless otherwise stated, the General Penalty applies when a Local Rule is broken.

How do you play preferred lies in golf?

Winter rules cannot be applied by a player who finds his ball on a barren section of hardpan in the first fairway. Favored lies include:

  1. Only when a local regulation or competition requirement is in place and golfers are made aware of it. (Ideally, there will be a placed sign so golfers will know exactly how far they can move a ball.)
  2. When a ball starts off in an area closely mowed, golfers lift, clean, and put it. Any area of the golf course that has been mowed to fairway height is referred to as a “closely mown area.” The putting greens and rough are excluded, but aprons around the greens or paths mowed through the rough may be included.

How Far Does A Ball Move Under Preferred Lies?

Ironically, that’s up to the invoking party to decide. For example, according to their terms, the USGA does not specify any distance for local golf. 

A ball lifted under preferred lying shall only be deposited “on a spot that is not in a hazard and not on a putting green, that is within (specify the area, e.g., six inches, one club-length, etc.) of and not closing the hole than where it originally lay,” according to the sample local regulation.

As we mentioned, the local law allows for a ball movement of up to six inches, which is the most typical length. However, other criteria are also applied: In some courses or competitions, it may be allowed to move the ball “one scorecard” away (the length of the scorecard). Others might employ a standard of one club’s length. (The professional tours typically, though only sometimes, use a single club length.)

Understanding the Lift, Clean, and Place Procedure 

In terms of the right way to move a ball in the case of the favored lie, the phrase “lift, clean, and place” says it all. 

Here are a few things to consider when wanting to know about what are preferred lies in golf. and playing the preferred lies. 

  • Golfers cannot toss it, bump it, roll or foot wedge it, pick up the ball or drop it repeatedly. 
  • You can clean the ball after lifting (only to preserve mud, as it is common on the golf course). 
  • Players need to mark the ball’s initial position before lifting it. You can either mark it or use a tee (whatever works best for you). 
  • After cleaning, you must set the ball down within the confines of the local rule in effect—again, no bumping, rolling, kicking, tossing, or similar actions.

Beginner golfers can also find the specimen of preferred lies golf 2022 local rules on the USGA website for further clear instructions. 

Golf Rules; Preferred Lies On Fairway 

preferred lies in golf

Golfers at Hurstville are permitted to prefer their lie by 30 cm when their ball is on the fairway or the shortcut grass surrounding the green while competing there. 

What is a good golf lie? The rule appears to be fairly simple, but to abide by the golf rules, we must all take the actions listed below.

  • Mark the position of the ball with a marker or a tee, whatever you prefer 
  • Before replacing it, you can clean the ball. 
  • Players can place the ball within 30 cm of the marked position. 
  • Don’t make the new spot closer to the hole. 
  • Place the ball only once time.
  • Ask your marker to confirm if there is any question as to whether the ball is in the fairway or shortcut grass.
  • In Match Play, you choose your lie when you’re not on the fairway or a shortcut to the green results in a penalty of two strokes or a hole loss.

Is It Essential for Beginner Golfers to Learn About Preferred Lies?

When you enter a new sport, it’s essential to know everything about the game to understand new terms and skills. 

Most golfers fall prey to the preferred lies term because you need help finding the definition on the official websites and other foundations. 

Therefore, It’s up to us to cover the concept in depth for all amateur golfers who have yet to learn how to play or go about the term. 

Once you get in touch with the winter rule, it opens possibilities to improve and enhance your game. However, only if you follow the rules accordingly. 

Final Words 

To sum it all up, what are preferred lies in golf?, another factor most people need help understanding when the time arises (main winter). 

Understandably, preferred lies are not essential to learn because it’s a winter rule, and most golfers don’t play the sport in such harsh weather. However, if you go to a golf club with friends, knowing the term can ease the situation tenfold.

Moreover, if this blog helped you get familiar with the idea, go through our beginner’s guide to golf to understand the basics of the sport in an elaborate way.


What are Preferred Lies In Golf?

It is a municipal regulation that only applies during the winter. The term “preferred lies” refers to the areas of a golf course where you, as a player, are permitted to alter your lie without incurring a cost.

Can I Play Preferred Lies In Summer?

No, this rule only applies in Winter. However, you can always ask your golf course management about the play terms and if they allow you, then go right ahead, but it’s highly unlikely.

Is Long Form & Preferred Lies Different terms?

No, In fact, Long form is the new preferred lies in golf. The real issue arises when novice golfers step into the field without recognizing the term. Hence, it’s common to misunderstand the terms and their meaning without prior knowledge.

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