Can a player brush away sand from his line on the fringe?

Published 21/02/2011 07:20:00

Steve's ball lies on the fringe of the green, a few feet off the putting surface. He plans to use his putter for his next stroke. There is some sand on the fringe from an explosion shot from a greenside bunker made by a player in a previous group. Steve brushes away some sand from the fringe on his line and plays his stroke.

Is this allowed?

No. Under rule 23, sand and loose soil are considered to be loose impediments only on the green. Steve is penalized two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play for improving his line of play (Rule 13-2).

Loose impediments are natural objects such as stones, leaves, twigs, insects, and the like, provided they are not fixed or growing, are not solidly embedded in the ground, and do not adhere to the ball (Rule 23). Any of these can be removed without penalty, unless both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard.

Sand and loose soil, however, are considered to be just part of the ground except on the specially manicured surface of the green. This doesn't extend to the fringe, even though players often use a putter from there. Steve could have removed any part of the sand that had splashed onto the green, but not any from off the green.

Now What If?

Steve's ball lies on the fringe of the green. One of his fellow competitors, Jim, then plays a stroke from a greenside bunker and splashes sand onto the fringe in front of Steve's ball.

Is Steve allowed to remove the sand?

Yes. Steve is entitled to the lie and line of play he had when his ball came to rest. He is allowed to remove the sand from his line of play, and can also lift and clean his ball if any sand landed on it.


1.  May I check that paragraph 4 is correct under the latest rules of golf. Today lying 4 inches from the putting surface I brushed away some sand lying on the green in my line of put. Whilst this was absent minded of me, my playing partner said McIroy was penalised two shots for the same and I was in breach. No problem, I duly penalised myself two shots after checking with the professional. However I did not brush sand from the fringe, only from the green. Did I improve my lie and therefore incur the penalty or was this not in breach of 13.2. Your advice would be gratefully received.

comment by Bill Dales - 01/08/2015 14:50

2.  I don't think you should have been penalized until the sand was off the green.

comment by Markus - 20/06/2021 18:24

3.  * unless *

comment by Markus - 20/06/2021 18:25

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