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Section

8E

Committee Procedures
Special or Required Relief Procedures
Committee Procedures
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Section 8D
Section 8F
8E
Special or Required Relief Procedures
E-1
Dropping Zones

Purpose. A dropping zone is a special form of relief area that may be adopted by the Committee. When taking relief in a dropping zone, the player must drop the ball in and have it come to rest in the dropping zone. Dropping zones should be considered when there may be practical problems in requiring players to use the normal relief options under a Rule, such as:

The following points apply when dropping a ball in a dropping zone:

  • The player does not have to stand in the dropping zone when dropping the ball.
  • When a player is using a dropping zone, the relief area is defined by that dropping zone and the ball must be dropped in and come to rest in the dropping zone (see Rule 14.3).
  • If the dropping zone is defined by a line on the ground, the line is inside the dropping zone.

See Section 2I for additional information regarding dropping zones.

Model Local Rule E-1.1

This Model Local Rule covers the example of a dropping zone used as an extra option for taking relief from a penalty area, but it may be adapted for any other Rule mentioned above.

"If a ball is in the penalty area [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found came to rest in the penalty area, the player has these relief options, each for one penalty stroke:

  • Take relief under Rule 17.1, or
  • As an extra option, drop the original ball or another ball in the dropping zone [describe how the dropping zone is defined and where located]. The dropping zone is a relief area under Rule 14.3.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

 Model Local Rule E-1.2

This Model Local Rule covers the example of a dropping zone used as an extra option for taking relief from an abnormal course condition such as a large area of ground under repair, but it may be adapted for any other Rule mentioned above.

"If a ball is in the ground under repair [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found came to rest in the ground under repair, the player may:

  • Take free relief under Rule 16.1, or
  • As an extra option, take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in the dropping zone [describe how the dropping zone is defined and where located] . The dropping zone is a relief area under Rule 14.3.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

Model Local Rule E-1.3

This Model Local Rule covers the example of a dropping zone used as the only relief option available (other than stroke and distance) for taking relief from a penalty area, but it may be adapted for any other Rule mentioned above.

"If a ball is in the penalty area [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found came to rest in the penalty area, the player may:

  • Take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 17.1d(1), adding one penalty stroke, or
  • Drop the original ball or another ball in the dropping zone [describe how the dropping zone is defined and where located], adding one penalty stroke. The dropping zone is a relief area under Rule 14.3.
  • The player may not take relief under Rules 17.1d(2) or 17.1d(3).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

E-2
Cleaning Ball

Purpose. When conditions such as wet ground conditions throughout parts of the course may cause mud to stick to the ball, the Committee can choose to allow the player to lift, clean and replace the ball in the general area. Such relief should be limited to those portions of the course where needed.

While the Local Rule for Preferred Lies (Model Local Rule E-3) is designed for use only in areas cut to fairway height or less in the general area, this Local Rule can be used throughout the general area or restricted to specific areas. The Committee could choose to use both Local Rules permitting preferred lies in the fairways and cleaning the ball elsewhere in the general area.

It is not advisable to implement this Local Rule once play has begun for a stroke-play round. Doing so would allow players who had more holes to play the advantage of using it for a longer period of time. The Local Rule could be implemented once a match has begun between the play of two holes as opponents have an equal benefit.

For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes (for example, if it must be limited to fairway only), consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.

Model Local Rule E-2

"When a player's ball lies in [identify area, such as the general area, at the 6th hole, in the general area cut to fairway height or less, etc.], the ball may be lifted cleaned and replaced without penalty. The player must mark the spot before lifting the ball (see Rule 14.1) and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (see Rule 14.2).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

E-3
Preferred Lies

Purpose. When occasional local abnormal conditions might interfere with fair play, the affected parts of the course can be defined as ground under repair. But adverse conditions such as heavy snows, spring thaws, prolonged rains or extreme heat can sometimes damage the course or prevent use of heavy mowing equipment.

When such conditions are widespread on the course, the Committee can choose to adopt a Local Rule for "preferred lies" (also known as "winter rules") to allow fair play or help protect the fairway. Such a Local Rule should be withdrawn as soon as conditions allow.

The use of this Local Rule outside the fairway in the general area is not recommended as it may result in a player receiving free relief from areas where a ball might otherwise be unplayable (such as in areas of bushes or trees).

It is not authorised to implement this Local Rule once play has begun for a stroke-play round. Doing so would allow players who have more holes to play the advantage of using it for a longer period of time. The Local Rule could be implemented once a match has begun between the play of two holes as opponents have an equal benefit.

For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes (including the size of the relief area and if it may only be used in the fairway), consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.

Model Local Rule E-3

"When a player's ball lies in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less [or identify a specific area such as 'on the fairway of the 6th hole'], the player may take free relief once by placing the original ball or another ball in and playing it from this relief area:

  • Reference Point: Spot of the original ball.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: [Specify size of relief area, such as one club-length, one scorecard length or 6 inches] from the reference point, but with these limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area:
    • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
    • Must be in the general area.

In proceeding under this Local Rule, the player must choose a spot to place the ball and use the procedures for replacing a ball under Rules 14.2b(2) and 14.2e.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

E-4
Relief from Aeration Holes

Purpose. Aeration holes do not fall within the meaning of holes made by the maintenance staff. Therefore players are not permitted to repair them on the putting green (see Rule 13.1c) or take free relief from them in the general area, but such holes can interfere with the proper playing of the game. If the Committee declares aeration holes to be ground under repair, a player may find it impractical or impossible to obtain complete relief.

Therefore, when recent aeration holes may significantly interfere with the lie of the ball or area of intended swing, the Committee can choose to give relief as it would for ground under repair but exclude relief for interference to the player's stance. This Local Rule should be withdrawn when the aeration holes have healed enough to avoid significant interference.

Model Local Rule E-4

"If a player's ball lies in or touches an aeration hole:

(a) Ball in General Area. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b. If the ball comes to rest in another aeration hole the player may take relief again under this Local Rule.

(b) Ball on Putting Green. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1d.

But interference does not exist if the aeration hole only interferes with the player's stance or, on the putting green, on the player's line of play.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

E-5
Alternative to Stroke and Distance for Lost Ball or Ball Out of Bounds

Purpose. When a provisional ball has not been played, significant issues with pace of play can result for a player needing to take stroke-and-distance relief for a ball that is out of bounds or cannot be found. The purpose of this Local Rule is to allow a Committee to provide an extra relief option that allows a player to play on without returning to the location of the previous stroke.

The Local Rule is appropriate for general play where golfers are playing casual rounds or playing their own competitions. The Local Rule is not appropriate for competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional competitions and elite amateur competitions). For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes, consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.

Where a Committee has introduced such a Local Rule for general play, and removes it for competitions, it should ensure that all players are aware of this before play begins.

A Committee may introduce such a Local Rule for all play on the course or only for one or two specific holes where it may be especially useful (for example, where players are unable to see the landing area and therefore may not know whether or not to play a provisional ball).

This option allows the player to drop in a large area between the point where the ball is estimated to have come to rest or gone out of bounds and the edge of the fairway of the hole being played that is not nearer the hole.

The player gets two penalty strokes when using this relief option. This means that the relief is comparable to what could have been achieved if the player had taken stroke-and-distance relief.

This Local Rule cannot be used for an unplayable ball, or for a ball that is known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area.

If a provisional ball is played and neither the original ball nor the provisional ball can be found, then the Local Rule may be applied for the provisional ball that cannot be found.

Model Local Rule E-5

"When a players ball has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds, the player may proceed as follows rather than proceeding under stroke and distance.

For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):

Two Estimated Reference Points:

(a). Ball Reference Point: The point where the original ball is estimated to have:

  • Come to rest on the course, or
  • Last crossed the edge of the course boundary to go out of bounds.

(b). Fairway Reference Point: The point of fairway of the hole being played that is nearest to the ball reference point, but is not nearer the hole than the ball reference point.

For purposes of this Local Rule, "fairway" means any area of grass in the general area that is cut to fairway height or less.

If a ball is estimated to be lost on the course or last crossed the edge of the course boundary short of the fairway, the fairway reference point may be a grass path or a teeing ground for the hole being played cut to fairway height or less.

Size of Relief Area Based on Reference Points: Anywhere between:

  • A line from the hole through the ball reference point (and within two club-lengths to the outside of that line), and
  • A line from the hole through the fairway reference point (and within two club-lengths to the fairway side of that line).

But with these limits:

Limits on Location of Relief Area:

  • Must be in the general area, and
  • Must not be nearer the hole than the ball reference point.

Once the player puts a ball in play under this Local Rule:

  • The original ball that was lost or out of bounds is no longer in play and must not be played.
  • This is true even if the ball is found on the course before the end of the three-minute search time (see Rule 6.3b).

But the player may not use this option to take relief for the original ball when:

  • That ball is known or virtually certain to have come to rest in a penalty area, or
  • The player has played another ball provisionally under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 18.3).

A player may use this option to take relief for a provisional ball that has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

E-6
Line of Play Relief for Protective Fence

Purpose. A fence (or similar protective screen) is sometimes used to protect players on one hole from shots played at another hole.

If such a fence is close to the playing area for another hole, the Committee can choose to use dropping zones to give a player an extra relief option without penalty when he or she is playing that other hole and the fence is on the line of play.

The player should be entitled to relief only when the ball is nearer the hole than the dropping zone, so that a player whose ball is well away from the fence is not allowed to move forward to the dropping zone. The Committee should take this into consideration when positioning the dropping zone to ensure that this relief will be available only for situations where they believe such free relief is justified.

Model Local Rule E-6

"During play of the [specify hole number], if the protective fence on the [specify hole number] is on a player's line of play:

  • The player may take free relief by dropping a ball in and playing it from the dropping zone (describe location).
  • But this relief is allowed only if the ball is in play nearer the hole than where the dropping zone is located (see Rule 14.3).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

E-7
Relief from Electric Boundary Fence

Purpose. Where an electric fence is used as a boundary fence, a Local Rule providing free relief for a ball lying within a certain distance (for example, 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 has an additional club-length in which to drop the ball no nearer the hole than where the ball originally lay.

It is not otherwise authorized to introduce a Local Rule providing free relief from a boundary fence even if the Committee's reasons for doing so are to protect the fence from any damage.

Model Local Rule E-7

"If a player's ball lies on the course and within [specify distance, such as two club-lengths] of the electric boundary fence on hole[s] [specify location(s)], he or she may, without penalty, take relief under Rule 16.1, using as the reference point the point that is [specify distance, such as two club-lengths] from the fence and an equal distance from the hole.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

E-8
Defining No Play Zones

Purpose. There may be some parts of the course where the Committee wishes to prohibit play, in which case each area must be treated as either within an abnormal course condition or a penalty area.

The Committee can use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • To protect wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally-sensitive areas.
  • To prevent damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas.
  • To protect players from danger.
  • To preserve sites of historical or cultural interest.

See Sections 2G and 5B(5) for more information on No Play Zones and how to mark them distinctively.

Model Local Rule E-8.1

"The area defined by [specify how the area is marked, for example, with green stakes] [specify where it is located, e.g. on the right of the fairway on hole 8] is a no play zone that is to be treated as an abnormal course condition. Free relief must be taken from interference by the no play zone under Rule 16.1f."

Model Local Rule E-8.2

"The area within the [red] [yellow] penalty area defined by [specify how the area is marked, for example, with green stakes] [specify where it is located, for example, on the right of the fairway on hole 8] is a no play zone. When a ball is in the no play zone within the penalty area, the ball must not be played as it lies and relief must be taken from interference by the no play zone under Rule 17.1e."

E-9
Defining an Area of Out of Bounds as a No Play Zone

Purpose. Although a player may not play a ball from out of bounds, there may be areas that are out of bounds that the Committee may wish to designate as no play zones, for example, to stop players from damaging anything growing in that area when it interferes with the play of a ball on the course. In this case, a player must take free relief if the player's ball is on the course but his or her area of intended stance is in the no play zone which is out of bounds or if his or her swing touches something that is in the no play zone.

Model Local Rule E-9

"The [identify the area out of bounds that is to be treated as a no play zone] is a no play zone and the player must take free relief under Rule 16.1f(2) if his or her ball is on the course and anything in the no play zone interferes with the player's area of intended stance or swing. The player must not play the ball as it lies.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

E-10
Protection of Young Trees

Purpose. To prevent damage to young trees when a player makes a stroke, a Committee can choose to designate them as a no play zone so that:

  • If a player has any type of interference as defined in Rule 16.1 from such a tree designated as a no play zone, he or she must take relief under Rule 16.1f.
  • If the player's ball lies in a penalty area, he or she must either take free relief under the Local Rule within the penalty area or proceed with penalty under Rule 17.1.

Such trees should be identified by stakes, ribbons or in some other clear way.

When the tree has matured and no longer needs this protection, the Committee should withdraw the Local Rule and/or remove the identifying stake or ribbon from the tree.

Model Local Rule E-10

"The young trees identified by [identify markings] are no play zones:

  • If a player's ball lies anywhere on the course other than in a penalty area and it lies on or touches such a tree or such a tree interferes with the player's stance or area of intended swing, the player must take relief under Rule 16.1f.
  • If the ball lies in a penalty area, and interference to the player's stance or area of intended swing exists from such a tree, the player must take relief either with penalty under Rule 17.1e or with free relief under Rule 17.1e(2).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

E-11
Ball Deflected by Power Line

Purpose. If a permanent overhead power line may interfere with the reasonable play of a hole, a Committee can require that if a ball hits the power line (and towers, support wires or poles supporting the power line), the stroke does not count and the player must play the stroke again. This Local Rule should not generally be used for power lines that do not interfere with play of a hole or are out of bounds.

A Local Rule that gives a player the option to replay the stroke for a ball that hits a power line should not be implemented.

Model Local Rule E-11

"If it is known or virtually certain that a player's ball hit a power line [or tower or a wire or pole supporting a power line] during the play of [specify hole number], the stroke does not count. The player must play a ball without penalty from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6 for what to do).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a."

Penalty Area

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

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

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 the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player 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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to the player's ball, such as when the player or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.

"All reasonably available information" includes all information the player knows and all other information he or she can get with reasonable effort and without unreasonable delay.

 

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/1 - Applying "Known or Virtually Certain" Standard When Ball Moves

When it is not "known" what caused the ball to move, all reasonably available information must be considered and the evidence must be evaluated to determine if it is "virtually certain" that the player, opponent or outside influence caused the ball to move.

Depending on the circumstances, reasonably available information may include, but is not limited to:

  • The effect of any actions taken near the ball (such as movement of loose impediments, practice swings, grounding club and taking a stance),
  • Time elapsed between such actions and the movement of the ball,
  • The lie of the ball before it moved (such as on a fairway, perched on longer grass, on a surface imperfection or on the putting green),
  • The conditions of the ground near the ball (such as the degree of slope or presence of surface irregularities, etc), and
  • Wind speed and direction, rain and other weather conditions.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/2 - Virtual Certainty Is Irrelevant if It Comes to Light After Three-Minute Search Expires

Determining whether there is knowledge or virtual certainty must be based on evidence known to the player at the time the three-minute search time expires.

Examples of when the player's later findings are irrelevant include when:

  • A player's tee shot comes to rest in an area containing heavy rough and a large animal hole. After a three-minute search, it is determined that it is not known or virtually certain that the ball is in the animal hole. As the player returns to the teeing area, the ball is found in the animal hole.
  • Even though the player has not yet put another ball in play, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b - What to Do When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds) since it was not known or virtually certain that the ball was in the animal hole, when the search time expired.
  • A player cannot find his or her ball and believes it may have been picked up by a spectator (outside influence), but there is not enough evidence to be virtually certain of this. A short time after the three-minute search time expires, a spectator is found to have the player's ball.

The player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b) since the movement by the outside influence only became known after the search time expired.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/3 - Player Unaware Ball Played by Another Player

It must be known or virtually certain that a player's ball has been played by another player as a wrong ball to treat it as being moved.

For example, in stroke play, Player A and Player B hit their tee shots into the same general location. Player A finds a ball and plays it. Player B goes forward to look for his or her ball and cannot find it. After three minutes, Player B starts back to the tee to play another ball. On the way, Player B finds Player A's ball and knows then that Player A has played his or her ball in error.

Player A gets the general penalty for playing a wrong ball and must then play his or her own ball (Rule 6.3c). Player A's ball was not lost even though both players searched for more than three minutes because Player A did not start searching for his or her ball; the searching was for Player B's ball. Regarding Player B's ball, Player B's original ball was lost and he or she must put another ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 18.2b), because it was not known or virtually certain when the three-minute search time expired that the ball had been played by another player.

Penalty Area

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

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

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 the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player 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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

Drop

To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

In taking relief, the player must let go of the ball from a location at knee height so that the ball:

  • Falls straight down, without the player throwing, spinning or rolling it or using any other motion that might affect where the ball will come to rest, and
  • Does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Relief Area

The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Ground Under Repair

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

  • All ground inside the edge of the defined area, and
  • Any grass, bush, tree or other growing or attached natural object rooted in the defined area, including any part of those objects that extends up above the ground outside the edge of the defined area, but not any part (such as a tree root) that is attached to or below the ground outside the edge of the defined area.

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 a player’s ball that the player’s 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, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a flower bed or a turf nursery), the Committee should say how the edge of the ground under repair is defined.

When the edge of ground under repair is defined by lines or physical features, stakes may be used to show where the ground under repair is, but they have no other meaning.

 

Interpretation Ground Under Repair/1 - Damage Caused by Committee or Maintenance Staff Is Not Always Ground Under Repair

A hole made by maintenance staff is ground under repair even when not marked as ground under repair. However, not all damage caused by maintenance staff is ground under repair by default.

Examples of damage that is not ground under repair by default include:

  • A rut made by a tractor (but the Committee is justified in declaring a deep rut to be ground under repair).
  • An old hole plug that is sunk below the putting green surface, but see Rule 13.1c (Improvements Allowed on Putting Green).

Interpretation Ground Under Repair/2 - Ball in Tree Rooted in Ground Under Repair Is in Ground Under Repair

If a tree is rooted in ground under repair and a player's ball is in a branch of that tree, the ball is in ground under repair even if the branch extends outside the defined area.

If the player decides to take free relief under Rule 16.1 and the spot on the ground directly under where the ball lies in the tree is outside the ground under repair, the reference point for determining the relief area and taking relief is that spot on the ground.

Interpretation Ground Under Repair/3 - Fallen Tree or Tree Stump Is Not Always Ground Under Repair

A fallen tree or tree stump that the Committee intends to remove, but is not in the process of being removed, is not automatically ground under repair. However, if the tree and the tree stump are in the process of being unearthed or cut up for later removal, they are "material piled for later removal" and therefore ground under repair.

For example, a tree that has fallen in the general area and is still attached to the stump is not ground under repair. However, a player could request relief from the Committee and the Committee would be justified in declaring the area covered by the fallen tree to be ground under repair.

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to the player's ball, such as when the player or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.

"All reasonably available information" includes all information the player knows and all other information he or she can get with reasonable effort and without unreasonable delay.

 

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/1 - Applying "Known or Virtually Certain" Standard When Ball Moves

When it is not "known" what caused the ball to move, all reasonably available information must be considered and the evidence must be evaluated to determine if it is "virtually certain" that the player, opponent or outside influence caused the ball to move.

Depending on the circumstances, reasonably available information may include, but is not limited to:

  • The effect of any actions taken near the ball (such as movement of loose impediments, practice swings, grounding club and taking a stance),
  • Time elapsed between such actions and the movement of the ball,
  • The lie of the ball before it moved (such as on a fairway, perched on longer grass, on a surface imperfection or on the putting green),
  • The conditions of the ground near the ball (such as the degree of slope or presence of surface irregularities, etc), and
  • Wind speed and direction, rain and other weather conditions.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/2 - Virtual Certainty Is Irrelevant if It Comes to Light After Three-Minute Search Expires

Determining whether there is knowledge or virtual certainty must be based on evidence known to the player at the time the three-minute search time expires.

Examples of when the player's later findings are irrelevant include when:

  • A player's tee shot comes to rest in an area containing heavy rough and a large animal hole. After a three-minute search, it is determined that it is not known or virtually certain that the ball is in the animal hole. As the player returns to the teeing area, the ball is found in the animal hole.
  • Even though the player has not yet put another ball in play, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b - What to Do When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds) since it was not known or virtually certain that the ball was in the animal hole, when the search time expired.
  • A player cannot find his or her ball and believes it may have been picked up by a spectator (outside influence), but there is not enough evidence to be virtually certain of this. A short time after the three-minute search time expires, a spectator is found to have the player's ball.

The player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b) since the movement by the outside influence only became known after the search time expired.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/3 - Player Unaware Ball Played by Another Player

It must be known or virtually certain that a player's ball has been played by another player as a wrong ball to treat it as being moved.

For example, in stroke play, Player A and Player B hit their tee shots into the same general location. Player A finds a ball and plays it. Player B goes forward to look for his or her ball and cannot find it. After three minutes, Player B starts back to the tee to play another ball. On the way, Player B finds Player A's ball and knows then that Player A has played his or her ball in error.

Player A gets the general penalty for playing a wrong ball and must then play his or her own ball (Rule 6.3c). Player A's ball was not lost even though both players searched for more than three minutes because Player A did not start searching for his or her ball; the searching was for Player B's ball. Regarding Player B's ball, Player B's original ball was lost and he or she must put another ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 18.2b), because it was not known or virtually certain when the three-minute search time expired that the ball had been played by another player.

Ground Under Repair

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

  • All ground inside the edge of the defined area, and
  • Any grass, bush, tree or other growing or attached natural object rooted in the defined area, including any part of those objects that extends up above the ground outside the edge of the defined area, but not any part (such as a tree root) that is attached to or below the ground outside the edge of the defined area.

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 a player’s ball that the player’s 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, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a flower bed or a turf nursery), the Committee should say how the edge of the ground under repair is defined.

When the edge of ground under repair is defined by lines or physical features, stakes may be used to show where the ground under repair is, but they have no other meaning.

 

Interpretation Ground Under Repair/1 - Damage Caused by Committee or Maintenance Staff Is Not Always Ground Under Repair

A hole made by maintenance staff is ground under repair even when not marked as ground under repair. However, not all damage caused by maintenance staff is ground under repair by default.

Examples of damage that is not ground under repair by default include:

  • A rut made by a tractor (but the Committee is justified in declaring a deep rut to be ground under repair).
  • An old hole plug that is sunk below the putting green surface, but see Rule 13.1c (Improvements Allowed on Putting Green).

Interpretation Ground Under Repair/2 - Ball in Tree Rooted in Ground Under Repair Is in Ground Under Repair

If a tree is rooted in ground under repair and a player's ball is in a branch of that tree, the ball is in ground under repair even if the branch extends outside the defined area.

If the player decides to take free relief under Rule 16.1 and the spot on the ground directly under where the ball lies in the tree is outside the ground under repair, the reference point for determining the relief area and taking relief is that spot on the ground.

Interpretation Ground Under Repair/3 - Fallen Tree or Tree Stump Is Not Always Ground Under Repair

A fallen tree or tree stump that the Committee intends to remove, but is not in the process of being removed, is not automatically ground under repair. However, if the tree and the tree stump are in the process of being unearthed or cut up for later removal, they are "material piled for later removal" and therefore ground under repair.

For example, a tree that has fallen in the general area and is still attached to the stump is not ground under repair. However, a player could request relief from the Committee and the Committee would be justified in declaring the area covered by the fallen tree to be ground under repair.

Drop

To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

In taking relief, the player must let go of the ball from a location at knee height so that the ball:

  • Falls straight down, without the player throwing, spinning or rolling it or using any other motion that might affect where the ball will come to rest, and
  • Does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Relief Area

The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Penalty Area

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

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

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 the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player 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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to the player's ball, such as when the player or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.

"All reasonably available information" includes all information the player knows and all other information he or she can get with reasonable effort and without unreasonable delay.

 

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/1 - Applying "Known or Virtually Certain" Standard When Ball Moves

When it is not "known" what caused the ball to move, all reasonably available information must be considered and the evidence must be evaluated to determine if it is "virtually certain" that the player, opponent or outside influence caused the ball to move.

Depending on the circumstances, reasonably available information may include, but is not limited to:

  • The effect of any actions taken near the ball (such as movement of loose impediments, practice swings, grounding club and taking a stance),
  • Time elapsed between such actions and the movement of the ball,
  • The lie of the ball before it moved (such as on a fairway, perched on longer grass, on a surface imperfection or on the putting green),
  • The conditions of the ground near the ball (such as the degree of slope or presence of surface irregularities, etc), and
  • Wind speed and direction, rain and other weather conditions.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/2 - Virtual Certainty Is Irrelevant if It Comes to Light After Three-Minute Search Expires

Determining whether there is knowledge or virtual certainty must be based on evidence known to the player at the time the three-minute search time expires.

Examples of when the player's later findings are irrelevant include when:

  • A player's tee shot comes to rest in an area containing heavy rough and a large animal hole. After a three-minute search, it is determined that it is not known or virtually certain that the ball is in the animal hole. As the player returns to the teeing area, the ball is found in the animal hole.
  • Even though the player has not yet put another ball in play, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b - What to Do When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds) since it was not known or virtually certain that the ball was in the animal hole, when the search time expired.
  • A player cannot find his or her ball and believes it may have been picked up by a spectator (outside influence), but there is not enough evidence to be virtually certain of this. A short time after the three-minute search time expires, a spectator is found to have the player's ball.

The player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b) since the movement by the outside influence only became known after the search time expired.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/3 - Player Unaware Ball Played by Another Player

It must be known or virtually certain that a player's ball has been played by another player as a wrong ball to treat it as being moved.

For example, in stroke play, Player A and Player B hit their tee shots into the same general location. Player A finds a ball and plays it. Player B goes forward to look for his or her ball and cannot find it. After three minutes, Player B starts back to the tee to play another ball. On the way, Player B finds Player A's ball and knows then that Player A has played his or her ball in error.

Player A gets the general penalty for playing a wrong ball and must then play his or her own ball (Rule 6.3c). Player A's ball was not lost even though both players searched for more than three minutes because Player A did not start searching for his or her ball; the searching was for Player B's ball. Regarding Player B's ball, Player B's original ball was lost and he or she must put another ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 18.2b), because it was not known or virtually certain when the three-minute search time expired that the ball had been played by another player.

Penalty Area

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

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

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 the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player 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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

Stroke and Distance

The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).

The term stroke and distance means that the player both:

  • Gets one penalty stroke, and
  • Loses the benefit of any gain of distance towards the hole from the spot where the previous stroke was made.
Drop

To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

In taking relief, the player must let go of the ball from a location at knee height so that the ball:

  • Falls straight down, without the player throwing, spinning or rolling it or using any other motion that might affect where the ball will come to rest, and
  • Does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Relief Area

The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

General Area

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

The general area includes:

  • All teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area, and
  • All wrong greens.
General Area

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

The general area includes:

  • All teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area, and
  • All wrong greens.
Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

If the player sets a ball down without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been replaced and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Whenever a Rule requires a ball to be replaced, the Rule identifies a specific spot where the ball must be replaced.

 

Interpretation Replace/1 - Ball May Not Be Replaced with a Club

For a ball to be replaced in a right way, it must be set down and let go. This means the player must use his or her hand to put the ball back in play on the spot it was lifted or moved from.

For example, if a player lifts his or her ball from the putting green and sets it aside, the player must not replace the ball by rolling it to the required spot with a club. If he or she does so, the ball is not replaced in the right way and the player gets one penalty stroke under Rule 14.2b(2) (How Ball Must Be Replaced) if the mistake is not corrected before the stroke is made.

Mark

To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either:

  • Placing a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or
  • Holding a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball.

This is done to show the spot where the ball must be replaced after it is lifted.

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

If the player sets a ball down without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been replaced and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Whenever a Rule requires a ball to be replaced, the Rule identifies a specific spot where the ball must be replaced.

 

Interpretation Replace/1 - Ball May Not Be Replaced with a Club

For a ball to be replaced in a right way, it must be set down and let go. This means the player must use his or her hand to put the ball back in play on the spot it was lifted or moved from.

For example, if a player lifts his or her ball from the putting green and sets it aside, the player must not replace the ball by rolling it to the required spot with a club. If he or she does so, the ball is not replaced in the right way and the player gets one penalty stroke under Rule 14.2b(2) (How Ball Must Be Replaced) if the mistake is not corrected before the stroke is made.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

General Area

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

The general area includes:

  • All teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area, and
  • All wrong greens.
Relief Area

The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

Club-Length

The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.

For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule.

 

Interpretation Club-Length/1 - Meaning of "Club-Length" When Measuring

For the purposes of measuring when determining a relief area, the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip is used. However, if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure.

Interpretation Club-Length/2 - How to Measure When Longest Club Breaks

If the longest club a player has during a round breaks, that broken club continues to be used for determining the size of his or her relief areas. However, if the longest club breaks and the player is allowed to replace it with another club (Exception to Rule 4.1b(3)) and he or she does so, the broken club is no longer considered his or her longest club.

If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs and decides to add another club that is longer than the clubs he or she started with, the added club is used for measuring so long as it is not a putter.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

General Area

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

The general area includes:

  • All teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area, and
  • All wrong greens.
Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

If the player sets a ball down without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been replaced and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Whenever a Rule requires a ball to be replaced, the Rule identifies a specific spot where the ball must be replaced.

 

Interpretation Replace/1 - Ball May Not Be Replaced with a Club

For a ball to be replaced in a right way, it must be set down and let go. This means the player must use his or her hand to put the ball back in play on the spot it was lifted or moved from.

For example, if a player lifts his or her ball from the putting green and sets it aside, the player must not replace the ball by rolling it to the required spot with a club. If he or she does so, the ball is not replaced in the right way and the player gets one penalty stroke under Rule 14.2b(2) (How Ball Must Be Replaced) if the mistake is not corrected before the stroke is made.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Putting Green

The area on the hole the player is playing that:

  • Is specially prepared for putting, or
  • The Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

The putting green for a hole contains the hole into which the player tries to play a ball. The putting green is one of the five defined areas of the course. The putting greens for all other holes (which the player is not playing at the time) are wrong greens and part of the general area.

The edge of a putting green is defined by where it can be seen that the specially prepared area starts (such as where the grass has been distinctly cut to show the edge), unless the Committee defines the edge in a different way (such as by using a line or dots).

If a double green is used for two different holes:

  • The entire prepared area containing both holes is treated as the putting green when playing each hole.

But the Committee may define an edge that divides the double green into two different putting greens, so that when a player is playing one of the holes, the part of the double green for the other hole is a wrong green.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to the player's ball, such as when the player or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.

"All reasonably available information" includes all information the player knows and all other information he or she can get with reasonable effort and without unreasonable delay.

 

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/1 - Applying "Known or Virtually Certain" Standard When Ball Moves

When it is not "known" what caused the ball to move, all reasonably available information must be considered and the evidence must be evaluated to determine if it is "virtually certain" that the player, opponent or outside influence caused the ball to move.

Depending on the circumstances, reasonably available information may include, but is not limited to:

  • The effect of any actions taken near the ball (such as movement of loose impediments, practice swings, grounding club and taking a stance),
  • Time elapsed between such actions and the movement of the ball,
  • The lie of the ball before it moved (such as on a fairway, perched on longer grass, on a surface imperfection or on the putting green),
  • The conditions of the ground near the ball (such as the degree of slope or presence of surface irregularities, etc), and
  • Wind speed and direction, rain and other weather conditions.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/2 - Virtual Certainty Is Irrelevant if It Comes to Light After Three-Minute Search Expires

Determining whether there is knowledge or virtual certainty must be based on evidence known to the player at the time the three-minute search time expires.

Examples of when the player's later findings are irrelevant include when:

  • A player's tee shot comes to rest in an area containing heavy rough and a large animal hole. After a three-minute search, it is determined that it is not known or virtually certain that the ball is in the animal hole. As the player returns to the teeing area, the ball is found in the animal hole.
  • Even though the player has not yet put another ball in play, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b - What to Do When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds) since it was not known or virtually certain that the ball was in the animal hole, when the search time expired.
  • A player cannot find his or her ball and believes it may have been picked up by a spectator (outside influence), but there is not enough evidence to be virtually certain of this. A short time after the three-minute search time expires, a spectator is found to have the player's ball.

The player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b) since the movement by the outside influence only became known after the search time expired.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/3 - Player Unaware Ball Played by Another Player

It must be known or virtually certain that a player's ball has been played by another player as a wrong ball to treat it as being moved.

For example, in stroke play, Player A and Player B hit their tee shots into the same general location. Player A finds a ball and plays it. Player B goes forward to look for his or her ball and cannot find it. After three minutes, Player B starts back to the tee to play another ball. On the way, Player B finds Player A's ball and knows then that Player A has played his or her ball in error.

Player A gets the general penalty for playing a wrong ball and must then play his or her own ball (Rule 6.3c). Player A's ball was not lost even though both players searched for more than three minutes because Player A did not start searching for his or her ball; the searching was for Player B's ball. Regarding Player B's ball, Player B's original ball was lost and he or she must put another ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 18.2b), because it was not known or virtually certain when the three-minute search time expired that the ball had been played by another player.

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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the boundary edge is in bounds, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the boundary edge (such as steps attached to a boundary fence, or a tree rooted outside the edge with branches extending inside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is outside the edge is out of bounds.

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.

Stroke and Distance

The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).

The term stroke and distance means that the player both:

  • Gets one penalty stroke, and
  • Loses the benefit of any gain of distance towards the hole from the spot where the previous stroke was made.
Drop

To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

In taking relief, the player must let go of the ball from a location at knee height so that the ball:

  • Falls straight down, without the player throwing, spinning or rolling it or using any other motion that might affect where the ball will come to rest, and
  • Does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Relief Area

The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:

  • All areas inside the boundary edge are in bounds and part of the course.
  • All areas outside the boundary edge are out of bounds and not part of the course.
  • The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The course is made up of the five defined areas of the course.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:

  • All areas inside the boundary edge are in bounds and part of the course.
  • All areas outside the boundary edge are out of bounds and not part of the course.
  • The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The course is made up of the five defined areas of the course.

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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the boundary edge is in bounds, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the boundary edge (such as steps attached to a boundary fence, or a tree rooted outside the edge with branches extending inside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is outside the edge is out of bounds.

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.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

General Area

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

The general area includes:

  • All teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area, and
  • All wrong greens.
Lost

The status of a ball that is not found in three minutes after the player or his or her caddie (or the player’s partner or partner’s caddie) begins to search for it.

If the search begins and is then temporarily interrupted for a good reason (such as when the player stops searching when play is suspended or needs to stand aside to wait for another player to play) or when the player has mistakenly identified a wrong ball:

  • The time between the interruption and when the search resumes does not count, and
  • The time allowed for search is three minutes in total, counting the search time both before the interruption and after the search resumes.

 

Interpretation Lost/1 - Ball May Not Be Declared Lost

A player may not make a ball lost by a declaration. A ball is lost only when it has not been found within three minutes after the player or his or her caddie or partner begins to search for it.

For example, a player searches for his or her ball for two minutes, declares it lost and walks back to play another ball. Before the player puts another ball in play, the original ball is found within the three-minute search time. Since the player may not declare his or her ball lost, the original ball remains in play.

Interpretation Lost/2 - Player May Not Delay the Start of Search to Gain an Advantage

The three-minute search time for a ball starts when the player or his or her caddie (or the player's partner or partner's caddie) starts to search for it. The player may not delay the start of the search in order to gain an advantage by allowing other people to search on his or her behalf.

For example, if a player is walking towards his or her ball and spectators are already looking for the ball, the player cannot deliberately delay getting to the area to keep the three-minute search time from starting. In such circumstances, the search time starts when the player would have been in a position to search had he or she not deliberately delayed getting to the area.

Interpretation Lost/3 - Search Time Continues When Player Returns to Play a Provisional Ball

If a player has started to search for his or her ball and is returning to the spot of the previous stroke to play a provisional ball, the three-minute search time continues whether or not anyone continues to search for the player's ball.

Interpretation Lost/4 - Search Time When Searching for Two Balls

When a player has played two balls (such as the ball in play and a provisional ball) and is searching for both, whether the player is allowed two separate three-minute search times depends how close the balls are to each other.

If the balls are in the same area where they can be searched for at the same time, the player is allowed only three minutes to search for both balls. However, if the balls are in different areas (such as opposite sides of the fairway) the player is allowed a three-minute search time for each ball.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:

  • All areas inside the boundary edge are in bounds and part of the course.
  • All areas outside the boundary edge are out of bounds and not part of the course.
  • The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The course is made up of the five defined areas of the course.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:

  • All areas inside the boundary edge are in bounds and part of the course.
  • All areas outside the boundary edge are out of bounds and not part of the course.
  • The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The course is made up of the five defined areas of the course.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

Club-Length

The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.

For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule.

 

Interpretation Club-Length/1 - Meaning of "Club-Length" When Measuring

For the purposes of measuring when determining a relief area, the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip is used. However, if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure.

Interpretation Club-Length/2 - How to Measure When Longest Club Breaks

If the longest club a player has during a round breaks, that broken club continues to be used for determining the size of his or her relief areas. However, if the longest club breaks and the player is allowed to replace it with another club (Exception to Rule 4.1b(3)) and he or she does so, the broken club is no longer considered his or her longest club.

If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs and decides to add another club that is longer than the clubs he or she started with, the added club is used for measuring so long as it is not a putter.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

Club-Length

The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.

For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule.

 

Interpretation Club-Length/1 - Meaning of "Club-Length" When Measuring

For the purposes of measuring when determining a relief area, the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip is used. However, if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure.

Interpretation Club-Length/2 - How to Measure When Longest Club Breaks

If the longest club a player has during a round breaks, that broken club continues to be used for determining the size of his or her relief areas. However, if the longest club breaks and the player is allowed to replace it with another club (Exception to Rule 4.1b(3)) and he or she does so, the broken club is no longer considered his or her longest club.

If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs and decides to add another club that is longer than the clubs he or she started with, the added club is used for measuring so long as it is not a putter.

General Area

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

The general area includes:

  • All teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area, and
  • All wrong greens.
Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

In Play

The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

A ball that is not in play is a wrong ball.

The player cannot have more than one ball in play at any time. (See Rule 6.3d for the limited cases when a player may play more than one ball at the same time on a hole.)

When the Rules refer to a ball at rest or in motion, this means a ball that is in play.

When a ball-marker is in place to mark the spot of a ball in play:

  • If the ball has not been lifted, it is still in play, and
  • If the ball has been lifted and replaced, it is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed.
Lost

The status of a ball that is not found in three minutes after the player or his or her caddie (or the player’s partner or partner’s caddie) begins to search for it.

If the search begins and is then temporarily interrupted for a good reason (such as when the player stops searching when play is suspended or needs to stand aside to wait for another player to play) or when the player has mistakenly identified a wrong ball:

  • The time between the interruption and when the search resumes does not count, and
  • The time allowed for search is three minutes in total, counting the search time both before the interruption and after the search resumes.

 

Interpretation Lost/1 - Ball May Not Be Declared Lost

A player may not make a ball lost by a declaration. A ball is lost only when it has not been found within three minutes after the player or his or her caddie or partner begins to search for it.

For example, a player searches for his or her ball for two minutes, declares it lost and walks back to play another ball. Before the player puts another ball in play, the original ball is found within the three-minute search time. Since the player may not declare his or her ball lost, the original ball remains in play.

Interpretation Lost/2 - Player May Not Delay the Start of Search to Gain an Advantage

The three-minute search time for a ball starts when the player or his or her caddie (or the player's partner or partner's caddie) starts to search for it. The player may not delay the start of the search in order to gain an advantage by allowing other people to search on his or her behalf.

For example, if a player is walking towards his or her ball and spectators are already looking for the ball, the player cannot deliberately delay getting to the area to keep the three-minute search time from starting. In such circumstances, the search time starts when the player would have been in a position to search had he or she not deliberately delayed getting to the area.

Interpretation Lost/3 - Search Time Continues When Player Returns to Play a Provisional Ball

If a player has started to search for his or her ball and is returning to the spot of the previous stroke to play a provisional ball, the three-minute search time continues whether or not anyone continues to search for the player's ball.

Interpretation Lost/4 - Search Time When Searching for Two Balls

When a player has played two balls (such as the ball in play and a provisional ball) and is searching for both, whether the player is allowed two separate three-minute search times depends how close the balls are to each other.

If the balls are in the same area where they can be searched for at the same time, the player is allowed only three minutes to search for both balls. However, if the balls are in different areas (such as opposite sides of the fairway) the player is allowed a three-minute search time for each ball.

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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the boundary edge is in bounds, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the boundary edge (such as steps attached to a boundary fence, or a tree rooted outside the edge with branches extending inside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is outside the edge is out of bounds.

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.

In Play

The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

A ball that is not in play is a wrong ball.

The player cannot have more than one ball in play at any time. (See Rule 6.3d for the limited cases when a player may play more than one ball at the same time on a hole.)

When the Rules refer to a ball at rest or in motion, this means a ball that is in play.

When a ball-marker is in place to mark the spot of a ball in play:

  • If the ball has not been lifted, it is still in play, and
  • If the ball has been lifted and replaced, it is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed.
Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:

  • All areas inside the boundary edge are in bounds and part of the course.
  • All areas outside the boundary edge are out of bounds and not part of the course.
  • The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The course is made up of the five defined areas of the course.

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to the player's ball, such as when the player or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.

"All reasonably available information" includes all information the player knows and all other information he or she can get with reasonable effort and without unreasonable delay.

 

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/1 - Applying "Known or Virtually Certain" Standard When Ball Moves

When it is not "known" what caused the ball to move, all reasonably available information must be considered and the evidence must be evaluated to determine if it is "virtually certain" that the player, opponent or outside influence caused the ball to move.

Depending on the circumstances, reasonably available information may include, but is not limited to:

  • The effect of any actions taken near the ball (such as movement of loose impediments, practice swings, grounding club and taking a stance),
  • Time elapsed between such actions and the movement of the ball,
  • The lie of the ball before it moved (such as on a fairway, perched on longer grass, on a surface imperfection or on the putting green),
  • The conditions of the ground near the ball (such as the degree of slope or presence of surface irregularities, etc), and
  • Wind speed and direction, rain and other weather conditions.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/2 - Virtual Certainty Is Irrelevant if It Comes to Light After Three-Minute Search Expires

Determining whether there is knowledge or virtual certainty must be based on evidence known to the player at the time the three-minute search time expires.

Examples of when the player's later findings are irrelevant include when:

  • A player's tee shot comes to rest in an area containing heavy rough and a large animal hole. After a three-minute search, it is determined that it is not known or virtually certain that the ball is in the animal hole. As the player returns to the teeing area, the ball is found in the animal hole.
  • Even though the player has not yet put another ball in play, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b - What to Do When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds) since it was not known or virtually certain that the ball was in the animal hole, when the search time expired.
  • A player cannot find his or her ball and believes it may have been picked up by a spectator (outside influence), but there is not enough evidence to be virtually certain of this. A short time after the three-minute search time expires, a spectator is found to have the player's ball.

The player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b) since the movement by the outside influence only became known after the search time expired.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/3 - Player Unaware Ball Played by Another Player

It must be known or virtually certain that a player's ball has been played by another player as a wrong ball to treat it as being moved.

For example, in stroke play, Player A and Player B hit their tee shots into the same general location. Player A finds a ball and plays it. Player B goes forward to look for his or her ball and cannot find it. After three minutes, Player B starts back to the tee to play another ball. On the way, Player B finds Player A's ball and knows then that Player A has played his or her ball in error.

Player A gets the general penalty for playing a wrong ball and must then play his or her own ball (Rule 6.3c). Player A's ball was not lost even though both players searched for more than three minutes because Player A did not start searching for his or her ball; the searching was for Player B's ball. Regarding Player B's ball, Player B's original ball was lost and he or she must put another ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 18.2b), because it was not known or virtually certain when the three-minute search time expired that the ball had been played by another player.

Penalty Area

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

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

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 the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player 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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

Stroke and Distance

The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).

The term stroke and distance means that the player both:

  • Gets one penalty stroke, and
  • Loses the benefit of any gain of distance towards the hole from the spot where the previous stroke was made.
Provisional Ball

Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be:

  • Out of bounds, or
  • Lost outside a penalty area.

A provisional ball is not the player’s ball in play, unless it becomes the ball in play under Rule 18.3c.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Line of Play

The line where the player intends his or her ball to go after a stroke, including the area on that line that is a reasonable distance up above the ground and on either side of that line.

The line of play is not necessarily a straight line between two points (for example, it may be a curved line based on where the player intends the ball to go).

In Play

The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

A ball that is not in play is a wrong ball.

The player cannot have more than one ball in play at any time. (See Rule 6.3d for the limited cases when a player may play more than one ball at the same time on a hole.)

When the Rules refer to a ball at rest or in motion, this means a ball that is in play.

When a ball-marker is in place to mark the spot of a ball in play:

  • If the ball has not been lifted, it is still in play, and
  • If the ball has been lifted and replaced, it is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed.
Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:

  • All areas inside the boundary edge are in bounds and part of the course.
  • All areas outside the boundary edge are out of bounds and not part of the course.
  • The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The course is made up of the five defined areas of the course.

Club-Length

The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.

For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule.

 

Interpretation Club-Length/1 - Meaning of "Club-Length" When Measuring

For the purposes of measuring when determining a relief area, the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip is used. However, if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure.

Interpretation Club-Length/2 - How to Measure When Longest Club Breaks

If the longest club a player has during a round breaks, that broken club continues to be used for determining the size of his or her relief areas. However, if the longest club breaks and the player is allowed to replace it with another club (Exception to Rule 4.1b(3)) and he or she does so, the broken club is no longer considered his or her longest club.

If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs and decides to add another club that is longer than the clubs he or she started with, the added club is used for measuring so long as it is not a putter.

Club-Length

The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.

For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule.

 

Interpretation Club-Length/1 - Meaning of "Club-Length" When Measuring

For the purposes of measuring when determining a relief area, the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip is used. However, if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure.

Interpretation Club-Length/2 - How to Measure When Longest Club Breaks

If the longest club a player has during a round breaks, that broken club continues to be used for determining the size of his or her relief areas. However, if the longest club breaks and the player is allowed to replace it with another club (Exception to Rule 4.1b(3)) and he or she does so, the broken club is no longer considered his or her longest club.

If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs and decides to add another club that is longer than the clubs he or she started with, the added club is used for measuring so long as it is not a putter.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

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.

The Committee may use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • Protecting wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally sensitive areas,
  • Preventing damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas,
  • Protecting players from danger, and
  • Preserving sites of historical or cultural interest.

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes, and the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should identify the no play zone as different than a regular abnormal course condition or penalty area that does not contain a no play zone.

 

Interpretation No Play Zone/1 - Status of Growing Things Overhanging a No Play Zone

The status of growing things that overhang a no play zone depends on the type of no play zone. This will matter since the growing things may be part of the no play zone, in which case the player is required to take relief.

For example, if a no play zone has been defined as a penalty area (where the edges extend above and below the ground), any part of a growing object that extends beyond the edges of the no play zone is not part of the no play zone. However, if a no play zone has been defined as ground under repair (which includes all ground inside the defined area and anything growing that extends above the ground and outside the edges), anything overhanging the edge is part of the no play zone.

Abnormal Course Condition

Any of these four defined conditions:

  • Animal Hole,
  • Ground Under Repair,
  • Immovable Obstruction, or
  • Temporary Water.
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.

The Committee may use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • Protecting wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally sensitive areas,
  • Preventing damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas,
  • Protecting players from danger, and
  • Preserving sites of historical or cultural interest.

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes, and the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should identify the no play zone as different than a regular abnormal course condition or penalty area that does not contain a no play zone.

 

Interpretation No Play Zone/1 - Status of Growing Things Overhanging a No Play Zone

The status of growing things that overhang a no play zone depends on the type of no play zone. This will matter since the growing things may be part of the no play zone, in which case the player is required to take relief.

For example, if a no play zone has been defined as a penalty area (where the edges extend above and below the ground), any part of a growing object that extends beyond the edges of the no play zone is not part of the no play zone. However, if a no play zone has been defined as ground under repair (which includes all ground inside the defined area and anything growing that extends above the ground and outside the edges), anything overhanging the edge is part of the no play zone.

Penalty Area

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

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

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 the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player 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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not 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.

The Committee may use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • Protecting wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally sensitive areas,
  • Preventing damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas,
  • Protecting players from danger, and
  • Preserving sites of historical or cultural interest.

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes, and the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should identify the no play zone as different than a regular abnormal course condition or penalty area that does not contain a no play zone.

 

Interpretation No Play Zone/1 - Status of Growing Things Overhanging a No Play Zone

The status of growing things that overhang a no play zone depends on the type of no play zone. This will matter since the growing things may be part of the no play zone, in which case the player is required to take relief.

For example, if a no play zone has been defined as a penalty area (where the edges extend above and below the ground), any part of a growing object that extends beyond the edges of the no play zone is not part of the no play zone. However, if a no play zone has been defined as ground under repair (which includes all ground inside the defined area and anything growing that extends above the ground and outside the edges), anything overhanging the edge is part of the no play zone.

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.

The Committee may use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • Protecting wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally sensitive areas,
  • Preventing damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas,
  • Protecting players from danger, and
  • Preserving sites of historical or cultural interest.

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes, and the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should identify the no play zone as different than a regular abnormal course condition or penalty area that does not contain a no play zone.

 

Interpretation No Play Zone/1 - Status of Growing Things Overhanging a No Play Zone

The status of growing things that overhang a no play zone depends on the type of no play zone. This will matter since the growing things may be part of the no play zone, in which case the player is required to take relief.

For example, if a no play zone has been defined as a penalty area (where the edges extend above and below the ground), any part of a growing object that extends beyond the edges of the no play zone is not part of the no play zone. However, if a no play zone has been defined as ground under repair (which includes all ground inside the defined area and anything growing that extends above the ground and outside the edges), anything overhanging the edge is part of the no play zone.

Penalty Area

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

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

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 the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player 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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not 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.

The Committee may use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • Protecting wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally sensitive areas,
  • Preventing damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas,
  • Protecting players from danger, and
  • Preserving sites of historical or cultural interest.

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes, and the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should identify the no play zone as different than a regular abnormal course condition or penalty area that does not contain a no play zone.

 

Interpretation No Play Zone/1 - Status of Growing Things Overhanging a No Play Zone

The status of growing things that overhang a no play zone depends on the type of no play zone. This will matter since the growing things may be part of the no play zone, in which case the player is required to take relief.

For example, if a no play zone has been defined as a penalty area (where the edges extend above and below the ground), any part of a growing object that extends beyond the edges of the no play zone is not part of the no play zone. However, if a no play zone has been defined as ground under repair (which includes all ground inside the defined area and anything growing that extends above the ground and outside the edges), anything overhanging the edge is part of the no play zone.

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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the boundary edge is in bounds, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the boundary edge (such as steps attached to a boundary fence, or a tree rooted outside the edge with branches extending inside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is outside the edge is out of bounds.

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.

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.

The Committee may use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • Protecting wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally sensitive areas,
  • Preventing damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas,
  • Protecting players from danger, and
  • Preserving sites of historical or cultural interest.

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes, and the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should identify the no play zone as different than a regular abnormal course condition or penalty area that does not contain a no play zone.

 

Interpretation No Play Zone/1 - Status of Growing Things Overhanging a No Play Zone

The status of growing things that overhang a no play zone depends on the type of no play zone. This will matter since the growing things may be part of the no play zone, in which case the player is required to take relief.

For example, if a no play zone has been defined as a penalty area (where the edges extend above and below the ground), any part of a growing object that extends beyond the edges of the no play zone is not part of the no play zone. However, if a no play zone has been defined as ground under repair (which includes all ground inside the defined area and anything growing that extends above the ground and outside the edges), anything overhanging the edge is part of the no play zone.

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.

The Committee may use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • Protecting wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally sensitive areas,
  • Preventing damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas,
  • Protecting players from danger, and
  • Preserving sites of historical or cultural interest.

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes, and the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should identify the no play zone as different than a regular abnormal course condition or penalty area that does not contain a no play zone.

 

Interpretation No Play Zone/1 - Status of Growing Things Overhanging a No Play Zone

The status of growing things that overhang a no play zone depends on the type of no play zone. This will matter since the growing things may be part of the no play zone, in which case the player is required to take relief.

For example, if a no play zone has been defined as a penalty area (where the edges extend above and below the ground), any part of a growing object that extends beyond the edges of the no play zone is not part of the no play zone. However, if a no play zone has been defined as ground under repair (which includes all ground inside the defined area and anything growing that extends above the ground and outside the edges), anything overhanging the edge is part of the no play zone.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:

  • All areas inside the boundary edge are in bounds and part of the course.
  • All areas outside the boundary edge are out of bounds and not part of the course.
  • The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The course is made up of the five defined areas of the course.

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.

The Committee may use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • Protecting wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally sensitive areas,
  • Preventing damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas,
  • Protecting players from danger, and
  • Preserving sites of historical or cultural interest.

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes, and the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should identify the no play zone as different than a regular abnormal course condition or penalty area that does not contain a no play zone.

 

Interpretation No Play Zone/1 - Status of Growing Things Overhanging a No Play Zone

The status of growing things that overhang a no play zone depends on the type of no play zone. This will matter since the growing things may be part of the no play zone, in which case the player is required to take relief.

For example, if a no play zone has been defined as a penalty area (where the edges extend above and below the ground), any part of a growing object that extends beyond the edges of the no play zone is not part of the no play zone. However, if a no play zone has been defined as ground under repair (which includes all ground inside the defined area and anything growing that extends above the ground and outside the edges), anything overhanging the edge is part of the no play zone.

Stance

The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

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.

The Committee may use no play zones for any reason, such as:

  • Protecting wildlife, animal habitats, and environmentally sensitive areas,
  • Preventing damage to young trees, flower beds, turf nurseries, re-turfed areas or other planted areas,
  • Protecting players from danger, and
  • Preserving sites of historical or cultural interest.

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes, and the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should identify the no play zone as different than a regular abnormal course condition or penalty area that does not contain a no play zone.

 

Interpretation No Play Zone/1 - Status of Growing Things Overhanging a No Play Zone

The status of growing things that overhang a no play zone depends on the type of no play zone. This will matter since the growing things may be part of the no play zone, in which case the player is required to take relief.

For example, if a no play zone has been defined as a penalty area (where the edges extend above and below the ground), any part of a growing object that extends beyond the edges of the no play zone is not part of the no play zone. However, if a no play zone has been defined as ground under repair (which includes all ground inside the defined area and anything growing that extends above the ground and outside the edges), anything overhanging the edge is part of the no play zone.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:

  • All areas inside the boundary edge are in bounds and part of the course.
  • All areas outside the boundary edge are out of bounds and not part of the course.
  • The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

The course is made up of the five defined areas of the course.

Penalty Area

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

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

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 the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player 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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

Stance

The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.

Penalty Area

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

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

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 the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player 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:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • 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.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

Stance

The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to the player's ball, such as when the player or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.

"All reasonably available information" includes all information the player knows and all other information he or she can get with reasonable effort and without unreasonable delay.

 

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/1 - Applying "Known or Virtually Certain" Standard When Ball Moves

When it is not "known" what caused the ball to move, all reasonably available information must be considered and the evidence must be evaluated to determine if it is "virtually certain" that the player, opponent or outside influence caused the ball to move.

Depending on the circumstances, reasonably available information may include, but is not limited to:

  • The effect of any actions taken near the ball (such as movement of loose impediments, practice swings, grounding club and taking a stance),
  • Time elapsed between such actions and the movement of the ball,
  • The lie of the ball before it moved (such as on a fairway, perched on longer grass, on a surface imperfection or on the putting green),
  • The conditions of the ground near the ball (such as the degree of slope or presence of surface irregularities, etc), and
  • Wind speed and direction, rain and other weather conditions.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/2 - Virtual Certainty Is Irrelevant if It Comes to Light After Three-Minute Search Expires

Determining whether there is knowledge or virtual certainty must be based on evidence known to the player at the time the three-minute search time expires.

Examples of when the player's later findings are irrelevant include when:

  • A player's tee shot comes to rest in an area containing heavy rough and a large animal hole. After a three-minute search, it is determined that it is not known or virtually certain that the ball is in the animal hole. As the player returns to the teeing area, the ball is found in the animal hole.
  • Even though the player has not yet put another ball in play, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b - What to Do When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds) since it was not known or virtually certain that the ball was in the animal hole, when the search time expired.
  • A player cannot find his or her ball and believes it may have been picked up by a spectator (outside influence), but there is not enough evidence to be virtually certain of this. A short time after the three-minute search time expires, a spectator is found to have the player's ball.

The player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b) since the movement by the outside influence only became known after the search time expired.

Interpretation Known or Virtually Certain/3 - Player Unaware Ball Played by Another Player

It must be known or virtually certain that a player's ball has been played by another player as a wrong ball to treat it as being moved.

For example, in stroke play, Player A and Player B hit their tee shots into the same general location. Player A finds a ball and plays it. Player B goes forward to look for his or her ball and cannot find it. After three minutes, Player B starts back to the tee to play another ball. On the way, Player B finds Player A's ball and knows then that Player A has played his or her ball in error.

Player A gets the general penalty for playing a wrong ball and must then play his or her own ball (Rule 6.3c). Player A's ball was not lost even though both players searched for more than three minutes because Player A did not start searching for his or her ball; the searching was for Player B's ball. Regarding Player B's ball, Player B's original ball was lost and he or she must put another ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 18.2b), because it was not known or virtually certain when the three-minute search time expired that the ball had been played by another player.

Stroke

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
Stroke

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.