I am not a fan of the hackneyed script in this USGA produced video with Annika Sörenstam, but it does help clarify the Rule.
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So, when ‘fairly taking their stance’ the player is required to do so in the least intrusive manner that results in the minimum improvement in the position or lie of the ball, area of intended stance or swing or line of play. Decision 13-2/1 provides a more detailed explanation of how to interpret ‘fairly’ in this context;
Without "fairly," the exception would permit improvement of position or lie, area of intended stance or swing or line of play by anything that could be said to be taking a stance. The use of "fairly" is intended to limit the player to what is reasonably necessary to take a stance for the selected stroke without unduly improving the position of the ball, his lie, area of intended stance or swing or line of play. Thus, in taking his stance for the selected stroke, the player should select the least intrusive course of action which results in the minimum improvement in the position or lie of the ball, area of intended stance or swing or line of play. The player is not entitled to a normal stance or swing. He must accommodate the situation in which the ball is found and take a stance as normal as the circumstances permit. What is fair must be determined in the light of all the circumstances.Now, permit me to draw your attention to my new web site, www.RhodesRulesSchool.com, where I have attempted to provide an indispensable resource for anyone who wishes to improve their knowledge and understanding of the Rules of Golf. In particular, check out how to obtain the all 99 issues of my photo series and my brand new, carefully devised quizzes; Juniors Quiz, General Quiz (for Club and Society golfers) and Match Play Quiz (highlighting the Rules differences in match play golf).
Examples of actions which do constitute fairly taking a stance are:
• backing into a branch or young sapling if that is the only way to take a stance for the selected stroke, even if this causes the branch to move out of the way or the sapling to bend or break.
• bending a branch of a tree with the hands in order to get under the tree to play a ball.
Examples of actions which do not constitute fairly taking a stance are:
• deliberately moving, bending or breaking branches with the hands, a leg or the body to get them out of the way of the backswing or stroke.
• standing on a branch to prevent it interfering with the backswing or stroke.
• hooking one branch on another or braiding two weeds for the same purpose.
• bending with a hand a branch obscuring the ball after the stance has been taken.
• bending an interfering branch with the hands, a leg or the body in taking a stance when the stance could have been taken without bending the branch.
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