2. Course Marking for General Play

Marking the course and refreshing those markings as needed is an ongoing task for which the Committee is responsible.

A well-marked course allows a player to play by the Rules and helps to eliminate confusion for players. For example, a player may not know how to proceed if a pond (penalty area) is not marked or if he or she is unable to determine if a ball is in bounds or out of bounds.

2A Out of Bounds

In order to ensure that play is conducted under the Rules, it is important for the Committee to properly mark the boundaries and maintain the markings  so that a player who hits a ball near a boundary is able to determine if his or her ball is in bounds or out of bounds. Areas beyond the course boundary are out of bounds and a ball must not be played from such areas.

(1) General Guidance for Determining and Marking Boundaries

The Committee can mark the course’s boundary in many ways. Stakes or painted lines can be placed in position by the Committee. Existing fences or walls can be used to define boundaries, as can the edge of other permanent structures such as roads or buildings.

In determining the boundaries for the course and marking them, there are a number of items for the Committee to consider:

Properties Bordering the Course

Use of Stakes

Use of Paint Lines

Other Ways of Marking Out of Bounds

Other Considerations

(2) Marking Internal Boundaries

To maintain the character of a hole or to protect players on adjacent holes, the Committee may establish boundaries between two holes.

If the internal boundary is not connected to other boundaries on the course it is important to mark where the boundary starts and finishes. It is recommended that two stakes be placed side-by-side and at an angle that indicates that the boundary extends indefinitely in the direction desired.

The internal boundary may apply for the play of only one hole or to more than one hole. The hole or holes for which the internal out of bounds applies, and the status of the stakes during the play of holes for which the boundary does not apply, should be clarified through a Local Rule (see Model Local Rule A-4).

2B Teeing Areas

The Committee should always attempt to position the tee-markers far enough forward so that players can use the entire two club-lengths permitted.

There are no restrictions on the width of the teeing area, but it is good practice to place the two tee-markers 5 to 7 paces apart. Placing them further apart than this makes it more difficult for a player to determine if the ball has been teed within the teeing area and can result in divot holes covering a much larger area on par-3 holes.

For guidance on where tee-markers may be located 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.

2C Penalty Areas

Penalty areas are areas of the course from which a player is allowed to take relief for one penalty stroke at a spot outside the penalty area that is potentially a significant distance from where his or her ball may have come to rest. As provided in the definition of “penalty area”, areas which contain water such as lakes, streams, rivers or ponds are penalty areas and should be marked as such.

The Committee may mark other portions of the course as penalty areas. Among the reasons the Committee may choose to mark other parts or features of the course are:

(1) Deciding When to Mark Area that Does Not Contain Water as Penalty Area

The Committee should take the following points into consideration before deciding to mark an area that does not contain water as a penalty area:

(2) How to Mark or Define the Edge of a Penalty Area

In taking relief from a penalty area, a player will usually need to know the point where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area and whether the penalty area is marked as red or yellow at that point.

(3) Determining Where to Mark the Edge of a Penalty Area

Marking the edge of a penalty area clearly is important to allow players to take relief. The Committee should consider the following in determining where to mark the edge of a penalty area:

(4) Whether to Mark a Penalty Area as Red or Yellow

Most penalty areas should be marked red to give players the additional option of lateral relief (see Rule 17.1d(3)). However, where part of the challenge of the hole is to carry over a penalty area such as a stream that crosses the front of the putting green and there is a good chance that a ball that carries over the stream could fall back into it, the Committee may decide to mark the penalty area as yellow. This ensures that a ball that lands on the far side of the penalty area before rolling back into the penalty area cannot be dropped on the far side under the lateral relief option.

When a penalty area is marked yellow, the Committee should ensure that a player will always be able to drop back-on-the-line under Rule 17.1d(2) or consider adding a dropping zone for the penalty area so that a player would have an option other than stroke and distance.

A Committee does not have to mark any penalty areas yellow. For simplicity, a Committee may decide to mark all penalty areas red so there is no confusion for players as to what relief options are available.

(5) Change in Status of a Penalty Area Between Red and Yellow

The Committee may wish to mark part of a penalty area as red and another part of the same penalty area as yellow. The Committee should determine the best point to make this transition to ensure that wherever a ball enters a yellow penalty area, a player will always be able to drop back-on-the-line under Rule 17.1d(2).

It should be remembered that the player’s relief options are based on where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area and not where the ball came to rest in it.

At the point where the edge of the penalty area changes, it is recommended that red and yellow stakes be placed right next to each other to make it clear exactly where the status of the penalty area changes.

Status of Penalty Area May Differ Depending on the Teeing Area Used

Where carrying the ball over a penalty area, such as a pond on a par 3, is part of the challenge of a hole from the back tee but not from the forward tee, the Committee may decide to define it with yellow stakes or a yellow line and use a Local Rule to the effect that the area is a red penalty area when played from the forward tee.

Status of Penalty Area May Differ Between Holes

When a penalty area is potentially in play for more than one hole, the Committee may choose to define it as a yellow penalty area during play of one hole and a red penalty area during play of another hole. Where this is the case the penalty area should be marked as yellow and a Local Rule used to clarify that it is to be treated as red when playing the relevant hole (see Model Local Rule B-1).

Status of Edge of Penalty Area Must Not Change During Play of Hole

While a penalty area may be played as yellow for players playing from one teeing area and red from another, a penalty area must not be defined so that one specific portion of the edge of the penalty area is red for a stroke made from one location but is yellow for a stroke made from another location by the same player. For example, it would be inappropriate and confusing to say that the edge of the penalty area on the putting green side of a lake is yellow for a stroke from the fairway side of the penalty area but red for a stroke from the putting green side.

(6) Defining a Penalty Area as a No Play Zone

The Committee may decide to define all or part of a penalty area as a no play zone. See Section 2G for more information on when to mark a penalty area as a no play zone.

(7) Body of Water Adjacent to Course

Where a body of water such as a stream, lake, sea, or ocean, borders the course, it is permissible to mark such an area as a penalty area rather than marking it as out of bounds. The phrase “on the course” in the definition of “penalty area” does not mean on property owned by the course; rather it refers to any area not defined as out of bounds by the Committee.

2D Bunkers

Normally there is no need to mark the edge of bunkers, but there may be times where the edges of the bunkers are difficult to determine. The Committee should either mark the edges with stakes or painted lines or define the edge through wording in Local Rules (see Model Local Rule C-1).

Position of Rakes

There is not a perfect answer for the position of rakes and it is a matter for each Committee to decide whether it has rakes placed in or out of bunkers.

It may be argued that there is more likelihood of a ball being deflected into or kept out of a bunker if the rake is placed outside the bunker. It could also be argued that if the rake is in the bunker it is most unlikely that the ball will be deflected out of the bunker.

However, in practice, players who leave rakes in bunkers frequently leave them at the side of the bunker which tends to stop a ball rolling into the flat part of the bunker resulting in a much more difficult shot than would otherwise have been the case. When the ball comes to rest on or against  a rake in the bunker and the player must proceed under Rule 15.2, it may not be possible to replace the ball on the same spot or find a spot in the bunker which is not nearer the hole.

If rakes are left in the middle of the bunker, the only way to position them is to throw them into the bunker and this causes indentations in the sand. Also, if a rake is in the middle of a large bunker, it is either not used or the player is obliged to rake a large area of the bunker when retrieving the rake, resulting in unnecessary delay.

Therefore, after considering all these aspects, and while recognising that the positioning of rakes is at the Committee’s discretion, it is recommended that rakes should be left outside bunkers in areas where they are least likely to affect the movement of the ball.

However, a Committee may decide to position rakes inside bunkers to make it easier for maintenance staff to cut fairways and bunker surrounds.

2E Putting Greens

Normally there is no need to mark the edge of putting greens, but there may be times where it may be difficult to determine the edge of the putting green due to the surrounding areas being cut to a similar height. When this is the case, the Committee may wish to paint small dots to define the edge of the putting green. The status of these dots should be clarified by a Local Rule (see Model Local Rule D-1).

2F Abnormal Course Conditions

While immovable obstructions rarely need to be marked in any way, it is recommended that areas of ground under repair are clearly marked by the Committee.

(1) Deciding What Areas to Mark as Ground Under Repair

In general, when ground conditions are abnormal to the course or it is unreasonable to require a player to play from a specific area, it should be marked as ground under repair.

Before marking any areas as ground under repair, the Committee should review the entire course to assess what types of areas are abnormal to the course in its current condition. Consideration should also be given to the location of any areas which may need to be marked:

(2) How to Mark or Define the Edge of Ground Under Repair

It is recommended that the Committee identify ground under repair by using paint, stakes or some other clear way of defining it such that there is no doubt as to where the edge of the area is.

2G No Play Zones

The definition of “no play zone” states that it is part of the course where the Committee wishes to prohibit play. No play zones can be either within an abnormal course condition or a penalty area and can encompass the entire area or just a portion of it.

(1) What May Be Marked as a No Play Zone

The Committee can define all or part of an abnormal course condition or a penalty area as a no play zone for any reason. Some common reasons are:

When deciding whether to mark a no play zone as an abnormal course condition or a penalty area, the Committee should consider the type of area being marked and whether it would be appropriate for the player to be able to take free relief or penalty relief from the area. For example:

When a course is next to privately-owned property (such as residential homes or farmlands), the Committee should normally mark those areas that are not part of the course as out of bounds. The Committee should not mark the privately-owned property adjacent to the course as a penalty area and a no play zone because it reduces the penalty for a ball that has come to rest in that area. If it is desired that a player should be prohibited from standing in an area of the course to play a ball that is on the course, the area may be marked as a no play zone (see Model Local Rule E-9).

(2) How to Mark a No Play Zone

The Committee should define the edge of a no play zone with a line or stakes to clarify whether the area is within an abnormal course condition or a penalty area. In addition, the line or stakes (or the tops of those stakes) should also identify that the area is a no play zone.

There is no specific colour of stakes and lines to be used for marking no play zones, but the following are recommended:

Environmentally sensitive areas may be physically protected to deter players from entering the area (for example, by a fence, warning signs and the like). The Committee could specify in a Code of Conduct a penalty for a player who enters such an area to retrieve a ball or for other reasons.

2H Integral Objects

Integral objects are artificial objects from which free relief is not available. Examples of objects that the Committee can choose to designate as integral objects include:

The Committee should define these objects as integral objects in the Local Rules (see Model Local Rule F-1).

When only a portion of the obstruction is to be considered an integral object that portion should be distinctively marked and that information communicated to the players. This may be done by marking with  distinctively coloured stakes at either end of the portion where free relief is not available or using paint to mark the area.

2I Dropping Zones

(1) When to Use Dropping Zones

A dropping zone is a special form of relief area that may be provided 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. The Committee should add a Local Rule stating under what circumstances the dropping zone may be used (see Model Local Rule E-1).

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:

Dropping zones should normally be used to give the player an extra relief option. But the Committee may also require use of a dropping zone as the player’s only relief option under a Rule, other than stroke and distance. When the Committee does make the use of a dropping zone mandatory, that replaces any other relief options provided by the relevant Rule and this should be made clear to players.

(2) Where to Position Dropping Zones

The Committee should attempt to place a dropping zone so that the architectural challenge of the hole is maintained, and it is typically not closer to the hole than where the player would be dropping the ball when using one of the options under the relevant Rule. For example, when situating the dropping zone for a penalty area, it should be set in a position where the player would still need to negotiate the penalty area rather than being located on the putting green side of the penalty area.

Dropping zones can be marked in many ways (such as by painted lines on the ground, markers such as tee-markers, or a stake or a sign), and can be any shape, such as a circle or a square. The size of the dropping zone may depend on how often it is likely to be used and where it is located, but the  size would normally be expected to have about a one club-length radius or smaller. When marked with paint, a sign or painted marking on the ground should be used to let players know its status.

If a dropping zone is likely to be used frequently, the Committee may wish to consider marking the dropping zone by defining the area in the Local Rules. For example, the dropping zone may be defined as being within one club-length of a physical object such as a sign or a stake. This allows for the object to be moved as needed to ensure the dropping zone remains in good condition.