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Marking the Course
Marking the Course
When preparing for a competition, the Committee should make sure that the course is properly marked and refresh any markings that might be used for general play, or change them if necessary. While there typically is no one "right" way to mark a course, failing to mark it properly or at all can lead to situations where a player is unable to proceed under the Rules or the Committee will be forced to make decisions while play is ongoing that might result in players being treated differently. Section 2 provides detailed guidance and recommendations on how to mark the course for general play, but it also applies equally to competitions and should be referenced by the Committee when preparing for competitions. Where changes are made to the course's marking for a competition, the Committee should ensure these are clearly communicated to any players who regularly play the course so that they are not confused and inadvertently proceed incorrectly. In addition to the information in Section 2, the Committee may wish to consider the following items:

Out of Bounds

The Committee is responsible for ensuring that all boundaries are marked properly. It is a good practice to paint a small white circle around the base of any white stake or other boundary object that could get moved during play so that it can be returned to its original location. If lines or paint dots are being used to mark a boundary, they should be refreshed so that they can easily be seen. The Local Rules should clarify any boundaries that are defined in any manner other than stakes or fences (see Model Local Rule A-1).

Penalty Areas

Before a competition, the Committee may wish to reassess the marking of some or all penalty areas.
  • Penalty areas that contain bodies of water should not be made a part of the general area, but their edges may be adjusted.
  • Other penalty areas may be removed or added, or their edges altered to change the difficulty of a hole, such as where it is considered appropriate to provide a more severe penalty for an errant shot. For example, the Committee may decide to mark areas of dense trees and bushes as penalty areas for general play, but not for competitions. Care should be taken in doing this so that it is clearly communicated to any players who regularly play the course so that they are not confused and proceed incorrectly.
  • When penalty areas are added or removed, the Committee should consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction to determine if the change will have an impact on the issued Course Rating.
  • The colour of some penalty areas may be changed from red to yellow or the reverse. For example, for certain competitions it may be desirable for a penalty area close to a putting green to be marked yellow where the Committee does not want to allow the option of dropping on the putting green side of the penalty area when the ball has fallen back into it. In some cases, it may also make sense to provide a dropping zone as an additional option, for example, for an island green where players have a long carry over water.
  • For general play, the Committee may have used a minimal number of stakes to mark penalty areas or they may have been removed, resulting in portions of some penalty areas being outside the marked area. For competitions, all stakes should be inspected and supplemented if necessary to ensure that the penalty areas are properly marked for the competition.
  • When possible, it is good practice to paint red or yellow lines around penalty areas rather than just relying on stakes. A line will ensure the proper areas are included or excluded, the edge will not be altered by the removal of a stake and a player will be able easily to determine where to take relief. Typically, when a line has been painted, fewer stakes are required.


For most courses, the Committee should not need to do anything special to prepare bunkers for the competition. They should be freshly raked on the morning of the competition and the rakes placed where the Committee prefers (see Section 2D). If the edge of a bunker is difficult to determine, the Committee should consider whether it could be more clearly defined (either through maintenance practices, marking or a Local Rule) to avoid confusion among players and referees.

Abnormal Course Conditions and Integral Objects

The Committee should review the entire course to ensure that any areas that should be marked as ground under repair are properly marked. It should also clarify the status of any obstructions or integral objects using Local Rules (see Model Local Rule F-1). Ideally a Committee should mark any areas of ground under repair before the start of a competition. But a Committee can define an area to be ground under repair during the round in match play or stroke play if it is warranted. Where relief is given from such an unmarked area during the round, the Committee should mark the area as ground under repair as soon as possible to ensure that all other players in the field are aware of the revised status of the area.

No Play Zones

If there are no play zones on the course, the Committee should make sure they are properly identified. The Committee may also consider putting notices in these areas to ensure that players are fully aware that they are not permitted to play from them.

Temporary Obstructions

Temporary structures such as tents or grandstands may be constructed for some competitions. The status of these structures will need to be clarified in the Local Rules as either Immovable Obstructions or Temporary Immovable Obstructions (TIOs). If they are to be treated as TIOs, the Local Rule regarding Temporary Immovable Obstructions should be used (see Model Local Rule F-23). This Local Rule gives a player additional relief if there is interference on the line of sight so that he or she will not be required to play around or over the obstruction.
Section 1The Role of the Committee
The Rules of Golf define the Committee as the person or group in charge of a competition or the course. The Committee is essential to the proper playing of the game. Committees have the responsibility of running the course on a day-to-day basis or for a specific competition and they should always act in ways that support the Rules of Golf. This part of the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf provides guidance to Committees in fulfilling this role. While many of the duties of a Committee are specific to running organized competitions, an important part of the Committee's duties relates to its responsibility for the course during general or every day play.
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