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…
Out of bounds rules
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.
Got a question for our expert?
Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 and 2023, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.
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