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The Course
Purpose of Rule: Rule 2 introduces the basic things every player should know about the course:
  • There are five defined areas of the course, and
  • There are several types of defined objects and conditions that can interfere with play.
It is important to know the area of the course where the ball lies and the status of any interfering objects and conditions, because they often affect the player’s options for playing the ball or taking relief.
The Course

Course Boundaries and Out of Bounds

Golf is played on a course whose boundaries are set by the Committee. Areas not on the course are out of bounds.

Defined Areas of the Course

There are five areas of the course.

The General Area

The general area covers the entire course except for the four specific areas of the course described in Rule 2.2b. It is called the "general area" because:
  • It covers most of the course and is where a player’s ball will most often be played until the ball reaches the putting green.
  • It includes every type of ground and growing or attached objects found in that area, such as fairway, rough and trees.

The Four Specific Areas

Certain Rules apply specifically to the four areas of the course that are not in the general area:
  • The teeing area the player must use in starting the hole they are playing (Rule 6.2),
  • All penalty areas (Rule 17),
  • All bunkers (Rule 12), and
  • The putting green of the hole the player is playing (Rule 13).

Determining Area of Course Where Ball Lies

The area of the course where a player’s ball lies affects the Rules that apply in playing the ball or taking relief. A ball is always treated as lying in only one area of the course:
  • If part of the ball is in both the general area and one of the four specific areas of the course, it is treated as lying in that specific area of the course.
  • If part of the ball is in two specific areas of the course, it is treated as lying in the specific area that comes first in this order: penalty area, bunker, putting green.

Objects or Conditions That Can Interfere with Play

Certain Rules may give free relief (relief with no penalty) from interference by certain defined objects or conditions, such as:
  • Loose impediments (Rule 15.1),
  • Movable obstructions (Rule 15.2), and
  • Abnormal course conditions, which are animal holes, ground under repair, immovable obstructions and temporary water (Rule 16.1).
But there is no free relief from boundary objects or integral objects that interfere with play.

No Play Zones

A no play zone is a defined part of an abnormal course condition (see Rule 16.1f) or a penalty area (see Rule 17.1e) where play is not allowed. A player must take relief when:
  • Their ball is in a no play zone, or
  • A no play zone interferes with their area of intended stance or area of intended swing in playing a ball outside the no play zone (see Rules 16.1f and 17.1e).
See Committee Procedures, Section 5I(2) (a Code of Conduct may tell players to stay out of a no play zone entirely). 
Rule 1The Game, Player Conduct and the Rules
Purpose of Rule: Rule 1 introduces these central principles of the game for the player: Play the course as you find it and play the ball as it lies....
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