We all know we can take relief, but what about if you wanted to play it as it lies? Our Rules of Golf expert guides you through the variables of GUR

Every now and then, there is a rule everyone thinks they know. If you find your ball in ground under repair – an abnormal course condition – you may take free relief.

But Derek Smith emailed me to ask: “Can you take the decision to play a ball while in an area of GUR?”

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

Last year, I wrote a piece about where you can drop if a bunker is GUR. I added what I thought was a straightforward final line, but it started a debate in the comments that surprised me.

It was over Derek’s question – whether you could choose to play the ball from ground under repair. Many golfers find their ball in it and automatically choose to take relief.

There are usually good reasons for doing so. The clue is in the name and a trip inside the markings or white lines invariably brings a bad lie with it.

But, generally speaking, you can choose to play the ball as it lies from ground under repair if you wish.

I say generally because committees can prohibit the practice. They can declare it a No Play Zone, when they’re normally looking to protect an area or habitat, or they can establish a Local Rule.

I’m not a massive fan of blanket No Play Zones, or a compulsion for players to take relief from GUR, if only for the rare occasion when they are subsequently forced into a worse position.

A friend of mine recently hit his ball into an area of GUR where a NPZ was in force. His nearest point of complete relief turned out to be right under a fir tree.

Bad luck, you might say, but a situation that was easily avoided if he’d had the option to play the ball as it lies.

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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 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

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