Is a player allowed to shake water off a branch?

Published 07/02/2011 07:20:00

Gene's tee shot comes to rest underneath a tree, so that a branch interferes with his backswing. The tree is wet from recent rain. Before playing his next stroke, Gene shakes the water off the branch so he won't be distracted by water dislodged when he strikes the branch with the club.

Is this allowed?

No. This is a violation of Rule 13-2, and Gene is penalized with loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. A player is not allowed to improve the area of his intended stance or swing (or, for that matter, the position or lie of his ball, his line of play, or the area in which he is to place or drop a ball) by moving, bending, or breaking anything growing or fixed; by removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots, or other cut turf; or by removing dew, frost, or water. The only exceptions, when the ball lies through the green or in a hazard, are if he does any of these things in the process of fairly taking his stance or in making a stroke or the backswing of a stroke.

In Gene's case, the removal of water from the branch eliminated a distraction, and, therefore, improved the area of his intended swing. He suffers the same penalty as if he broke or bent the branch in order to get it out of the way of his backswing.

Now What If?

Gene's tee shot comes to rest under a tree after a rainfall. In order to remove a potential distraction, he shakes water off of a tree branch that would interfere with his backswing. He then decides to play in a different direction; the branch does not interfere with his swing in this direction.

Is he penalized?

Yes. Gene broke Rule 13-2 as soon as he shook water off the branch. The penalty is not avoided if he subsequently plays the shot in another direction.


1.  When dropping the ball in the ruff is it allowed to clear the area of a couple of square feet first by brushing over the area of ruff and removing twigs before dropping the ball? Appreciate the ruling on this. Thank you

comment by Ange Costard - 13/02/2015 21:54

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