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Building A Stance In A Tree

Posted: 3/28/2013

Did Sergio Garcia build a stance when he leaned against a tree to make a stroke?

At last weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, Sergio Garcia hit his ball toward a large tree. When he approached the tree, he saw a ball high up in its trunk. With the help of a cart, he was able to scale the tree and identify the ball as his. He ended up playing the ball backward, holding the club with one hand. While making this unusual stroke, he used his free hand to brace himself against the tree. Did he build a stance by bracing himself against the tree during his stroke?

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Video: Sergio Garcia's Tree Shot 

Rule 13-3 states: “A player is entitled to place his feet firmly in taking his stance, but he must not build a stance.” This Rule uses the word “build” specifically to mean that a player cannot create a stance by placing an object or altering the ground in such a way that his stance is different from the one he could have made when his ball came to rest.

Therefore, in this situation, Garcia was permitted to stand in or lean against the tree, since the tree was already there. Could he have also stood on the cart to make his stroke? That depends on how the cart got there.

If Garcia came to the area and the cart was already in place, he could have stood on, braced himself against, or otherwise used the cart in that position  to make the stroke. Additionally, he was permitted to use the cart to climb the tree, just as he could have also used a ladder, if one was readily available. However, he may not have the cart moved into a position where he could stand on it to make a stroke – see Decision 13-3/5.

In summary, a player is permitted to use objects in position to assist him for his stroke, provided he did not place them or have them placed in the position to assist him in taking his stance or making a stroke.

This is another great example of how the Rules of Golf can help the player.

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