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Rule

2

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2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
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Rule 1
Rule 3

Purpose: Rule 2 introduces the basic things you should know about the course:

  • There are five defined areas of the course, and
  • There are several types of defined objects and conditions that can interfere with your play.

It is important to know the area of the course where your ball lies and the status of any interfering objects and conditions, because they often affect your options for playing your ball or taking relief.

2.1
Course Boundaries and Out of Bounds

Golf is played on a course. Areas not on the course are out of bounds.

2.2
Defined Areas of the Course

There are five areas of the course. The general area, which covers the entire course except for the four specific areas:

  • The teeing area of the hole you are playing (Rule 6.2),
  • All penalty areas (Rule 17),
  • All bunkers (Rule 12), and
  • The putting green of the hole you are playing (Rule 13).

It is important to know the area of the course where your ball lies as this affects the Rules that apply in playing your ball or taking relief.

See Full Rules For information on how to treat a ball that is lying on two parts of the course.

2.3
Objects or Conditions That Can Interfere with Your Play

Free relief (relief with no penalty) may be available from:

  • Loose impediments (Rule 15.1),
  • Movable obstructions (Rule 15.2), and
  • Abnormal course conditions, which are animal holes, ground under repair, immovable obstructions and temporary water (Rule 16.1).

But you do not get free relief from boundary objects or integral objects that interfere with your play.

2.4
No Play Zones

A no play zone is a part of the course that you are not allowed to play your ball from. You must also take relief if the no play zone interferes with your stance or area of intended swing when playing a ball outside the no play zone.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

Out of Bounds

All areas outside the boundary edge of the course as defined by the Committee. All areas inside that edge are in bounds.

The boundary edge of the course extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The boundary edge should be defined by boundary objects or lines:

  • Boundary objects: When defined by stakes or a fence, the boundary edge is defined by the line between the course-side points of the stakes or fence posts at ground level (excluding angled supports), and those stakes or fence posts are out of bounds.
  • When defined by other objects such as a wall or when the Committee wishes to treat a boundary fence in a different way, the Committee should define the boundary edge.
  • Lines: When defined by a painted line on the ground, the boundary edge is the course-side edge of the line, and the line itself is out of bounds.
When a line on the ground defines the boundary edge, stakes may be used to show where the boundary edge is, but they have no other meaning. Boundary stakes or lines should be white.
Areas of the Course

The five defined areas that make up the course: (1) the general area, (2) the teeing area you must play from in starting the hole you are playing, (3) all penalty areas, (4) all bunkers, and (5) the putting green of the hole you are playing.

General Area

The area of the course that covers all of the course except for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area you must play from in starting the hole you are playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole you are playing.

The general area includes all teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area, and all wrong greens.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are playing. The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where:

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.
Penalty Area

An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if your ball comes to rest there.

There are two different types of penalty areas, distinguished by the colour used to mark them:

  • Yellow penalty areas (marked with yellow lines or yellow stakes) give you two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give you an extra lateral relief option (Rule 17.1d(3)), in addition to the two relief options available for yellow penalty areas.

If the colour of a penalty area has not been marked or indicated by the Committee, it is treated as a red penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes or lines.

  • Stakes: When defined by stakes, the edge of the penalty area is defined by the line between the outside points of the stakes at ground level, and the stakes are inside the penalty area.
  • Lines: When defined by a painted line on the ground, the edge of the penalty area is the outside edge of the line, and the line itself is in the penalty area.
Bunker

A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. These are not part of a bunker:

  • A lip, wall or face at the edge of a prepared area and consisting of soil, grass, stacked turf or artificial materials,
  • Soil or any growing or attached natural object inside the edge of a prepared area (such as grass, bushes or trees),
  • Sand that has spilled over or is outside the edge of a prepared area, and
  • All other areas of sand on the course that are not inside the edge of a prepared area (such as deserts and other natural sand areas or areas sometimes referred to as waste areas).
Putting Green

The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

Areas of the Course

The five defined areas that make up the course: (1) the general area, (2) the teeing area you must play from in starting the hole you are playing, (3) all penalty areas, (4) all bunkers, and (5) the putting green of the hole you are playing.

Loose Impediment

Any unattached natural object such as:

  • Stones, loose grass, leaves, branches and sticks,
  • Dead animals and animal waste,
  • Worms, insects and similar animals that can be removed easily, and the mounds or webs they build (such as worm casts and ant hills), and
  • Clumps of compacted soil (including aeration plugs).

Such natural objects are not loose if they are:

  • Attached or growing,
  • Solidly embedded in the ground (that is, cannot be picked out easily), or
  • Sticking to the ball.

Special cases:

  • Sand and loose soil are not loose impediments.
  • Dew, frost and water are not loose impediments.
  • Snow and natural ice (other than frost) are either loose impediments or, when on the ground, temporary water, at your option.
  • Spider webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.
Movable Obstruction

An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.

If part of an immovable obstruction or integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets these two standards, that part is treated as a movable obstructionBut this does not apply if the movable part of an immovable obstruction or integral object is not meant to be moved (such as a loose stone that is part of a stone wall).

Abnormal Course Condition

An animal hole, ground under repair, an immovable obstruction, or temporary water.

Animal Hole

Any hole dug in the ground by an animal, except for holes dug by animals that are also defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).

The term animal hole includes:

  • The loose material the animal dug out of the hole,
  • Any worn-down track or trail leading into the hole, and
  • Any area on the ground pushed up or altered as a result of the animal digging the hole underground.
Ground Under Repair

Any part of the course the Committee defines to be ground under repair (whether by marking it or otherwise).

Ground under repair also includes the following things, even if the Committee does not define them as such:

  • Any hole made by the Committee or the maintenance staff in:
    • Setting up the course (such as a hole where a stake has been removed or the hole on a double green being used for the play of another hole), or
    • Maintaining the course (such as a hole made in removing turf or a tree stump or laying pipelines, but not including aeration holes).
    • Grass cuttings, leaves and any other material piled for later removal. But:
      • Any natural materials that are piled for removal are also loose impediments, and
      • Any materials left on the course that are not intended to be removed are not ground under repair unless the Committee has defined them as such.
    • Any animal habitat (such as a bird's nest) that is so near your ball that your stroke or stance might damage it, except when the habitat has been made by animals that are defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).

    The edge of ground under repair should be defined by stakes or lines:

    • Stakes: When defined by stakes, the edge of the ground under repair is defined by the line between the outside points of the stakes at ground level, and the stakes are inside the ground under repair.
    • Lines: When defined by a painted line on the ground, the edge of the ground under repair is the outside edge of the line, and the line itself is in the ground under repair.
    Immovable Obstruction

    Any obstruction that cannot be moved without unreasonable effort or without damaging the obstruction or the course, and otherwise does not meet the definition of a movable obstruction.

    Temporary Water

    Any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation or an overflow from a body of water) that is not in a penalty area, and can be seen before or after you take a stance (without pressing down excessively with your feet).

    It is not enough for the ground to be merely wet, muddy or soft or for the water to be momentarily visible as you step on the ground; an accumulation of water must remain present either before or after your stance is taken.

    Special cases:

    • Dew and frost are not temporary water.
    • Snow and natural ice (other than frost), are either loose impediments or, when on the ground, temporary water, at your option.
    • Manufactured ice is an obstruction.
    Boundary Object

    Artificial objects defining or showing out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings, from which free relief is not allowed.

    This includes any base and post of a boundary fence, but does not include angled supports or guy wires that are attached to a wall or fence, or any steps, bridge or similar construction used for getting over the wall or fence.

    Boundary objects are treated as immovable even if they are movable or any part of them is movable (see Rule 8.1a).

    Boundary objects are not obstructions or integral objects.

    Integral Object

    An artificial object defined by the Committee as part of the challenge of playing the course from which free relief is not allowed.

    Artificial objects defined by the Committee as integral objects are treated as immovable (see Rule 8.1a). But if part of an integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets the definition of movable obstruction, that part is treated as a movable obstruction.

    Integral objects are not obstructions or boundary objects.

    No Play Zone

    A part of the course where the Committee has prohibited play. A no play zone must be defined as part of either an abnormal course condition or a penalty area.

    Course

    The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

    No Play Zone

    A part of the course where the Committee has prohibited play. A no play zone must be defined as part of either an abnormal course condition or a penalty area.

    No Play Zone

    A part of the course where the Committee has prohibited play. A no play zone must be defined as part of either an abnormal course condition or a penalty area.