Guidance on Running a Competition

Out of Bounds

It may be necessary for a Committee to introduce a Local Rule clarifying the boundaries of a course and to highlight holes on which the method of defining the boundary differs from the rest of the course, for example:

“Out of Bounds (Rule 27-1)
1. Beyond any fence or line of white stakes defining the boundary of the course.
2. At the 18th hole, on or beyond the concrete path surrounding the Clubhouse.”

If there are out of bounds stakes between two holes that apply to only one of the holes, it should be made clear in the Local Rules to which of the holes the boundary applies. Furthermore, it is recommended that, by Local Rule the stakes are deemed immovable obstructions during play of the hole for which the stakes do not constitute a boundary (see Decision 24/5).

Local Rules OOB1

The Committee should clarify in the Local Rules what defines a boundary; e.g. stakes and/or lines.

It is not permissible to introduce a Local Rule providing relief from a boundary fence even if the Committee’s reasons for doing so are to protect the fence from any damage. However, where the boundary fence is an electric fence, a Local Rule providing relief for a ball lying within a certain distance (e.g. two club-lengths) of the boundary fence is permitted. In these circumstances to ensure the safety of the player, the player can measure the two club-lengths from the fence and an additional club-length in which to drop the ball no nearer the hole.

If there is a road running through the course that defines the boundary of a hole and the ball comes to rest beyond it on the other part of the course, ordinarily under the Rules of Golf the ball is in bounds (see Decision 27/20). However, as a ball lying on the road would be out of bounds, it is somewhat inequitable that the player must bear a penalty under Rule 27-1 when the ball lies on the road but not when the ball has rolled over the road. Where this type of situation exists, it is suggested that the following Local Rule is adopted:

“A ball that crosses a public road defined as out of bounds and comes to rest beyond that road is out of bounds, even though it may lie on another part of the course.”  

Local Rules OOB2

A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies out of bounds.

A ball is out of bounds only when all of it lies out of bounds. Consequently, it is not permissible to make a Local Rule stating that a ball is out of bounds if it crosses a boundary, even if it recrosses the boundary and comes to rest on the same part of the course. The use of such a Local Rule to prevent players from cutting across a dogleg would be an unacceptable modification of the Rules of Golf (see Decision 33-8/38).