The hot weather has left our courses resembling a well-used cricket wicket. But are you expected to play it as it lies if your ball is wedged in a crack? Our Rules of Golf expert is here to help

It’s not just those of us playing golf who have been parched in this extreme weather. Our golf courses have taken a hit in the searing temperatures as well.

And while some of us – well, me really – love a course that turns brown as fast, firm, and bouncy means long hitting for everyone, it can also bring out some conditions that leave us praying for help from the rules.

When a course gets particularly hot and dry, fairways and green surrounds can suffer because of cracks in the ground. They can open up like fissures in the heat and if your ball comes to rest in such a crack, it’s going to be a tough time getting it out.

Even though you’d think these are the absolute epitome of an abnormal course condition, are they ground under repair?

Should your committee get to work, what do they need to do, and are there any limitations on the relief that could be provided? Stand by, as I reveal all…

Rules of Golf explained: Relief from cracks in ground

Ground under repair can be any part of the course the committee defines as such, whether by “marking it or otherwise”.

But if you’re badgering your hard-working club volunteers to do something about these mini San Andreas faults popping up around the course in the scorching weather, you could point them in the direction of Model Local Rule F-8, which deals with ‘Relief from Cracks in Ground’ directly.

That’s because while your ball might have come a cropper and be seriously affected, a “player’s stance may not be hindered by the condition”.

This Local Rule only gives relief for the lie of the ball, and the area of intended swing. It also has a restriction to cracks in the ground in “parts of the general area cut to fairway height or less”.

It says they are ground under repair and allows you to take free relief as you normally would under Rule 16.1b.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, 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.

Subscribe to NCG

2023 NCG Top 100s Tour Spring events now on sale!


Subscribe to NCG