Is it compulsory to pick up from an area labelled GUR? Our Rules of Golf expert Steve Carroll explains

The bulldozers have been out, the rain has been falling like we all need to live in Arks rather than houses, and now it’s frozen solid. Conditions on the course have been less than ideal.

That’s winter golf for you, but whether it’s inclement conditions or a course renovation, you can find yourself asking the sort of question that Ron Boyce recently emailed to me.

He wrote: “Can you please confirm the rule for taking relief from a bunker that has been deemed compulsory GUR?”

Rules of Golf explained: Is ground under repair compulsory?

I don’t think this is specifically the question Ron is asking (we’ll get to that in a minute) but his email raises a wider point about ground under repair that many players misunderstand.

If a committee has labelled an area of the golf course as GUR then you can take free relief, but you also have the option to play the ball as it lies.

There are a couple of caveats to this. If the area has been designated as a No Play Zone, then that’s a very different matter.

Now, you are compelled to take relief and you must find the nearest point of complete relief where interference from the NPZ does not exist. You’ve got a one-club relief area in which to drop.

A committee could also bring in a drop zone and make it mandatory where there is an area of ground under repair they don’t want you to play from but don’t necessarily want to define as a no play zone.

On to Ron’s main point. The definition of bunker says that when a bunker is being repaired and the committee defines the entire bunker as ground under repair, that means it is treated as part of the general area. It is not a bunker. You’d take relief as you normally would from an abnormal course condition under Rule 16.1.

Let’s say the bunker is flooded with temporary water. There’s a local rule – it’s F-16 under the 2023 Rules – that allows committees to deal with this.

They need to specify exactly which bunker, or bunkers, are affected and they are also classified as ground under repair in the general area.

Now read more about Ground Under Repair relief

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.

Handicap: 10.9

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