Through the Green

Rule Corner – Rule 13-2: Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play


Suzanne Olsen
Certified Rules Official WGANC & NCGA

Jane is playing in a tight match when she hit her ball under a willow tree. She takes a practice swing close to the ball and her club hits a branch of the tree on the back swing, knocking down a few leaves. Her opponent claims the hole saying that she improved her lie. What do you think?

Without seeing the tree, you really can’t make a decision! There are examples of what constitutes “improving” one’s lie in Decision 12-2/0.5. Ask yourself the following: Did the player’s action change the lie, area of intended stance of swing for the better so that she’d created a potential advantage? I’ve never personally seen a willow tree that wasn’t fully “leafed”. I doubt loss of a few leaves would create an advantage! But if it were a tree with very few leaves, than yes, removal of them would create an advantage. (Loss of hole in Match Play, 2 stroke penalty in Stroke Play.)

After Jane shows her opponent the Rule book, the two decide she does not get a loss of hole penalty, so Jane steps up to her ball and prepares to hit. On the backstroke she hits a branch and actually breaks it off, but she continues the stroke and hits the ball well forward onto the fairway Her opponent again claims the hole saying that that surely improved her area of intended swing.

If you ask yourself again, “Did the player’s action change the lie, area of intended stance of swing for the better so that she’d created a potential advantage”? You’d have to say no, because hitting the branch probably was a disadvantage! And that’s why the Rule says the player incurs no penalty if the action occurs in making a stroke or the backward movement of his club for a stroke and the stroke is made. Be sure that you understand that if she broke the branch (or removed the only 2 leaves on the branch) and discontinued her swing, she would be improving her area of intended swing for any subsequent strokes, so she’d incur the loss of hole penalty (or 2 stroke penalty in Stroke Play).


Important Update from our President
on the Status of WGANC

WGANC President, Kim Algren

WGANC President, Kim Algren

Dear Members,

The following Joint Communication Statement was released on September 6 by WGANC, PWGA and NCGA:

“We are pleased to announce that the WGANC, PWGA, and NCGA have agreed to a two-year collaboration plan to support golfers in the Northern California community with a variety of services, including the regional administration and issuance of each member’s Handicap Index. In addition to continuing the WGANC and PWGA programs, services, and other benefits, all members will receive full NCGA membership benefits during this timeframe. The previously communicated WGANC and PWGA vote regarding potential merger/unification will not be needed until 2019 as a result of this highly collaborative process. The WGANC, PWGA, and NCGA leadership fully supports this agreement, and thanks the USGA for their assistance, as we all work together to foster a sustainable and vibrant future for golf in our region.”

– Kim Algren, President of WGANC
– Nancy Boggs, PWGA President
– Pat Quinn, NCGA President


Sheri Erskine to receive NCGA Distinguished Service Award

Jerry Stewart, NCGA Assistant Director of Communications
Lynda Donahue, WGANC Bay Area Director
Sept. 14, 2017

Sheri Erskine, WGANC member and the 2006 WGANC Outstanding Volunteer Award recipient, will be presented with the NCGA’s Distinguished Service Award on September 21, 2017 at the NCGA Hall of Fame ceremony at Poppy Hills. Sheri is one of only 5 women to receive this award in its 35 year history.

Introduced to the game by John, her husband-to-be in 1967, Sheri not only has enjoyed playing, but has served as a USGA volunteer since 1994, when she first joined the Women’s Handicap Procedure Committee. Karen Dedman, a friend from Sacramento and a past USGA Women’s Committee member, had approached Sheri after seeing her efforts at her home club, Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton.

In 1995, Sheri went to Rules School. On her first try at the difficult Rules test, she’d score an impressive 92. Not long afterwards, she’d work the first of what would become numerous U.S. Women’s Opens as a walking Rules official.

Eventually Sheri became a member of three USGA committees—Course Rating, Handicap and Handicap Procedure. Fortunately for the NCGA, Sheri has also left her touch on the Northern California golf circle.
Sheri was among those responsible for re-rating NorCal courses upon the institution of Slope Rating. She later also became co-chairman of the WGANC’s handicap committee and still serves as the WGANC’s Course Rating chairman.

Off the course, Sheri is a regular speaker and instructor for the WGANC and the USGA, sharing her years of knowledge through presentations at local, regional and national course-rating seminars.

In 2010, the California Women’s Amateur Championship honored her with the Helen Lengfeld Award for her impact on women’s amateur golf in NorCal.

  Today, she’s still on the USGA Handicap Procedure and Course Rating Committees and still does course ratings for the NCGA. She’s also now spent 50 years with John— a fellow Rules official and former NCGA Board member.

Sheri will be attending the ceremony with her husband, John and their two daughters. The NCGA Hall of Fame was founded in 2011 to celebrate the rich and storied history of golf in Northern California, and to preserve and honor the legacies of those who have dramatically shaped and impacted the game in the region and beyond. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees include Juli Inkster, Loren Roberts, Casey Boyns and Dr. Allister McKenzie (posthumous). What an honor for Sheri to share the stage with these individuals!






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Through The Green newsletters
going all the way back to 2006
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Rules-Ball in Play

Interns Update, April ’17

Volunteers at Rules School, Apr ’17

Women’s Golf Day Press Rel. Mar ’17

Message from New President Spring ’17

Winter Storms, Mar ’17

Importance of Grants for Jrs, Feb ’17

Rules Corner – Equipment, Jan ’17

President’s Message – Goodbye, Dec’16

Gail Rogers Retiring, Dec. ’16

Rules-Leaves & Winter Rules, Dec ’16

Rules – Re-Dropping (Part 2), Nov ’16

Rules – Re-Dropping (Part 1), Oct ’16

The Challenge of Participation, Oct ’16

Women-Golf-at-the-Olympics, Sept ’16

The Future of WGANC, Aug ’16

How do I Play on Northern Team, Aug ’16

Rules Corner – Nrst Pnt of Relief, Aug ’16

Rules Corner – What Penalties?, July ’16

Volunteering at U.S. Open, July ’16

Empowering Girls Through Golf, July ’16

Rules Corner – On the Green, July ’16

Summer-President’s Message-June-2016

2016-North-vs-South-Match, June ’16

Golf Returns-to-the-Olympics, June ’16

Course Rating – What You Know, May ’16

Spring President’s Message, Feb ’16

Peer Review & Playing Alone, Feb ’16

Abnormal Ground Conditions, Jan ’16