Preferred Lies (Winter Rules) and Adverse Course Conditions
Occasional local abnormal conditions that might interfere with fair play and are not widespread may be defined as ground under repair ("The Rules of Golf," Rule 25).
However, adverse conditions, such as heavy snows, spring thaws, prolonged rains, or extreme heat can make fairways unsatisfactory and sometimes prevent use of heavy mowing equipment. When these conditions are so general throughout a course that the Committee believes preferred lies (winter rules) would promote fair play or help protect the course, the following Local Rule is recommended:
"A ball lying on a closely mown area through the green [or specify a more restricted area, e.g., at the 6th hole] may be lifted without penalty and cleaned. Before lifting the ball, the player must mark its position. Having lifted the ball, he must place it on a spot within [specify area, e.g., six inches, one club-length, etc.] of and not nearer the hole than where it originally lay, that is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.
A player may place his ball only once, and it is in play when it has been placed (Rule 20-4). If the ball fails to come to rest on the spot on which it was placed, Rule 20-3d applies. If the ball when placed comes to rest on the spot on which it is placed and it subsequently moves, there is no penalty, and the ball must be played as it lies, unless the provisions of any other Rule apply.
If the player fails to mark the position of the ball before lifting it or moves the ball in any other manner, such as rolling it with a club, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.
Note: "Closely mown area" means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.
Clear as mud, eh?