A ball lying on a closely-mown area through the green 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 six inches 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 is 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, he incurs a penalty of one stroke.
Note 1: “Closely-mown area” means any area of the course, cut to fairway height or less.
On the putting green, a ball that comes to rest in or on an aeration hole or disease scar may be placed at the nearest spot not nearer the hole that avoids the situation.
Immovable Obstructions – Rule 24-2
The posts and ropes in around the greens used to direct trolleys are immovable obstructions.
PENALTY FOR BREACH OF WINTER RULES
Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes
If a player incurs the general penalty for a the ‘placing’ rule no further penalty is applied.