Course Marking: Ground Under Repair

Rule 33-2 states that the Committee must accurately define:

  1. the course and out of bounds,
  2. the margins of water hazards and lateral water hazards,
  3. ground under repair, and
  4. obstructions and integral parts of the course.

In previous articles we have looked at out of bounds and marking water hazards, in this third article about course marking we take a look at ground under repair.

To ensure consistency, it is suggested that the responsibility of defining ground under repair should be assigned to a small number of members of the Committee, preferably two or three people including the person in charge of the Committee, and ideally any decision should be taken jointly.  Although the Committee is responsible for defining areas of ground under repair, in practice the actual marking is often delegated to the greens staff.

Before marking any areas as ground under repair, the Committee is advised to conduct a thorough course review identifying areas that may need to be marked. Only when an inspection has been completed is it recommended that any marking should be undertaken. Otherwise, the Committee may mark areas of ground under repair at the first few holes and subsequently find that the condition is prevalent throughout the course, i.e. it is not actually an abnormal ground condition, it is a common condition.  If a condition is particularly prevalent, it may also not be possible to mark all of the relevant areas.

The types of areas that the Committee should look out for include:

-        Damage caused by vehicles, (but note that only deep ruts should be defined as ground under repair, shallow indentations would not warrant such a classification).

-        Rain damaged / washed out areas, particularly in bunkers.

-        Newly turfed areas.

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Peter Hanson of Sweden hits an approach shot next to an area of ground under repair, following a landslide on the 1st hole during the final round of The Barclays Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links on July 10, 2011 in Inverness, Scotland.

The Rules of Golf do not specify the colour to mark an area of ground under repair; however, it is recommended that ground under repair be defined by white lines.  If the terrain is such that putting down a line is impossible, small stakes painted a distinctive colour, such as blue or black, may be used.  Stakes which are painted white, yellow or red are not recommended as they could be confused with boundaries or hazards.   


Areas of ground under repair should be identified in the Local Rules, e.g. “Any area encircled by a white line is ground under repair (Rule 25-1).  As it is hoped that such marking will be of a temporary nature, no specific references should be included on a Club’s score card but rather the Local Rule should be a note posted on a notice board or issued in conjunction with the score card.

There may be areas that the Committee wishes to declare ground under repair from which play is prohibited to protect the area while it recovers. Whilst the Local Rules or a notice should make reference to such areas, the Committee should also place signs in the ground under repair stating that play is prohibited from the area.

Prior to prohibiting play from an area of ground under repair, it is important for the Committee to assess the relief that is available to the player. It would be unfair to make a player take relief from an area that would normally be reasonable for play, when the player’s nearest point of relief is in bushes, trees or some other unplayable position.

In terms of a bunker that has been defined as ground under repair, it is worth noting that while the bunker is being renovated, the bunker loses its status as a hazard and is automatically classified as “through the green”.  Therefore, unless a Committee specifically states otherwise, Rule 25-1b(i) applies and not Rule 25-1b(ii)

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For more information on course marking and further details of Local Rules in relation to ground under repair, see the Guidance on Running a Competition section on Ground Under Repair Local Rules.