Updated on June 20th, 2023 at 05:21 pm

The lift, clean, and place rule in golf is something that comes into play after heavy rain on the course or during aeration. The lift, clean, and place rule in golf can help players that are stuck in a bad spot that came about as no fault of their own.

The important thing here is to ensure that you are doing lift, clean, and place correctly. If you are unsure how to do this, we will help. We’ll take a look at what “lift,” “clean,” and “place” are and how this local (golf) rule is going to impact your golf game.

What Are Lift, Clean, and Place Rules In Golf?

The lift, clean, and place is a local rule that a golf course can implement when playing conditions become a bit too difficult for players. Most of the time, this rule is put into place when there is wet weather, casual water in the fairways, and wet conditions that the chance a ball could plug in the fairway.

When a golfer hits a shot that becomes covered in mud and dirt while lying in the fairway, it can be nearly impossible to hit well. Some players will have to take an unplayable lie for them to be able to play the ball. With lift clean and place, you can get free relief, clean your ball and then place it back into play.

Do you Have to Take an Unplayable Lie if the Golf Ball is Embedded?

Fortunately, if the ball is embedded, the golfer can remove their golf ball from the embedded lie in the turf, clean the ball, and identify the nearest point of relief to drop their ball. The ball must be within one club length of the embedded lie and cannot be closer to the hole.

What Is Preferred Lie In Golf?

image of a very dirty golf ball - AEC Info

Preferred lie and lift, clean and place are used interchangeably. Playing lift, clean, and place means that you will be benefiting from a preferred lie, and therefore they are the same thing. In some areas of the country, both preferred lies and the lift, clean, and place rule are referred to as winter rules.

In the winter, when the playing conditions are not nearly as good, it can make sense to play lift, clean, and place to make the game fairer. Essentially all players will have the same chance to be able to hit a great shot.

In the winter, when the playing conditions are not nearly as good, it can make sense to play lift, clean, and place to make the game fairer. Essentially all players will have the same chance to be able to hit a great shot.

Preferred Lies vs. Lift, Clean, and Place

The thing to remember about the local rule of lift, clean, and place is that it can be different from one tournament to another. Depending on where you are playing and whether it is the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club or a day at your local club, you will need to understand that the local rule can change.

Preferred lies and lift, clean and place are the same thing. The way you move your golf ball and take relief will be the exact same. However, the individual local rules can vary depending on where you are playing and the type of event.

How To Do Lift, Clean, and Place

image of cleaning a golf ball on the green - AEC Info

Now that you understand what lift, clean, and place are, it’s time to understand how to take relief. The lift, clean, and place rule will not apply when you are on the putting green because you can already mark the ball, lift and clean it on the green.

However, in any of the closely mown areas around the golf course, lift, clean, and place is going to be available for golfers to take advantage of. Here are the steps to correctly do lift, clean, and place.

Step 1: Check The Area

The first thing you must do is check the area where you are planning on taking relief from. If the area is in the rough, you are likely not going to be eligible. Most of the time, the local rule will state that the ball has to be in the fairway or a closely mown area. If you are in a good spot, then you can feel free to take some relief.

Step 2: Mark The Ball

The next step is to mark the golf ball. You will want to place the golf ball right next to where it was marked, and therefore it is essential to properly mark your ball. Most golfers will use a tee to mark their spot. When marking the ball, you will have to consider what the local rule states about where the ball can be placed.

Sometimes the lift, clean, and place will be within one scorecard length, and other times it will be one club length. Most of the time, you will have to keep it very close to the original location where you hit your ball.

The lift, clean, and place rule is more about getting a fair chance at getting the ball and the club to make contact than it is about moving the ball close to the hole. You should still have relatively the exact same shot to hit after you have marked your golf ball.

Step 3: Lift and Clean

Once you have the ball marked, you can lift it and clean it. This can be done with a towel, and then the ball is placed back at the spot of the mark. The ball does not need to be dropped under this rule; you are able to put it exactly where you had your tee in the ground.

Step 4: Place

When you place the ball down, make sure that you are not messing with it all that much. Simply place it down, pick the mark up and get ready to hit your golf ball. The lift, clean, and place are a tremendous benefit whether you are on the PGA Tour or an amateur golfer, yet you must follow this rule closely.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Playing lift clean and place can be a challenge for some players to understand. If this is the case for you, then you may want to consider a few of these questions.

When Can You Lift, Clean, and Place In Golf?

You can lift, clean, and place your ball anytime that the local rules allow for it. You may see this as winter rules, preferred lies, or the lift, clean, and place rule as being in effect. All of these things will give the same general meaning, and you can learn a lot about what you should and shouldn’t do based on what these rules have to say.

Are You Allowed To Clean Your Ball On The Fairway?

If the lift, clean, and place rule is in effect, you are allowed to clean your ball on the fairway. However, if you are just playing a standard round of golf where this is not the case, then you are not allowed to clean your ball on the fairway.

What Does Closely Mown Area Mean?

The closely mown area is the area of the golf course that is considered to be the fairway, or grass cut to fairway height, and includes the fringe area of the putting green, as well as any patch that are cut through the rough.

As you can imagine, the long rough is not an area that is closely mown; the grass is kept quite a bit longer in these areas.

Do Lift Clean and Place Rounds Count for Handicap?

Yes, they do. If you are playing a lift, clean, and play, then you can get credit for the number of strokes that you would normally get for that particular stroke. For example, if you normally take three shots to get into the fairway, but you only need two shots because you lifted, cleaned, and played, then you will receive two strokes for that round.


Hopefully, you now understand what lift, clean, and place is and how it will impact your game. Anytime a golf course has this in place, you will want to take complete advantage of it. The preferred lies rule is not going to come into play if the golf course conditions are perfect.

Therefore it’s essential to take advantage of any benefits that you may get from a preferred lie rule being in place. For more golf info and reviews be sure to check out AEC Info.