Do golf course boundaries extend to the air too? Our Rules of Golf expert considers if OOB can cover an area as well as the ground

Does out of bounds extend to air space? If you hit your ball over an area that is OOB, does that mean you’re going to need to reload?

Dale emailed me with the following: “I have an interesting question. I hit a tee shot over a road which was out of bounds with white stakes and landed in the fairway of the next hole.

“Is the ball out of bounds or can it be played from the next hole – since it landed in an area inbounds and just flew over out of bounds?”

You’re right Dale. That is an interesting question. Let see if we can work out the answer…

Rules of Golf explained: Out of bounds rules

out of bounds

When is a ball out of bounds? Rule 18.2a (2) says “a ball at rest is out of bounds only when all of it is outside the boundary edge of the course”.

Is a ball at rest if it’s flying through the air, or even bouncing on the road, over an area that’s out of bounds? No, it is not. It’s where it ends up that’s the key, not how it got there.

The committee procedures in the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf, in Section 2A on course marking for general play, “do not contemplate an area having more than one status during the play of the hole”.

That means you can’t mark out an area as out of bounds for particular shots or “strokes made from certain areas”.

Committees are also “not authorised to establish a Local Rule stating that a ball played over a certain area is out of bounds even if it does not come to rest in that area”.

But if the road is a public one that runs through the course then they do have recourse through Model Local Rule A-5.

The purpose of that rule says a public road in this scenario is usually out of bounds, which makes it possible for a ball to be “played from one side of the road to come to rest in bounds on the other side of the road, even though that ball would be out of bounds if it came to rest on the road itself”.

A committee, which believes it is “unfair or dangerous to treat those situations differently”, can bring in a rule stating that a ball played from one side of the road that comes to rest on the other side is out of bounds.

But if you have to cross that road in the normal course of play, then committees are told to make sure the Local Rule doesn’t apply in that case.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s Level 3 rules exam with distinction, I’ll try to help by featuring the best in this column.

You can read all of Steve’s Rules of Golf explained columns here.

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. Steve is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 3-Wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Hybrids: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Irons: TaylorMade Stealth 5-A Wedge Wedges: TaylorMade Hi-Toe 54 and 58 Putter: Sik Sho Ball: TaylorMade TP5

Handicap: 11.3

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