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ground under repair

Are tractor ruts considered ground under repair?

The maintenance team have been at work and your ball has landed in the aftermath. Is it free relief all round? Our Rules of Golf guru takes a look

 

Does it ever stop raining? Not only does it keep us off the course, but when we do return it leaves all sorts of havoc in its wake.

Those machines our hard-working greenkeepers use to maintain our courses can be on the heavy side. Put them together with soft, wet, ground and they can leave their mark.

Sometimes they run pretty deep.

What happens when our ball becomes mixed up in this unavoidable collateral damage? What if you get to it – usually its in the rough – only to find it’s sitting in a rut made by a tractor or a mower?

Is it ground under repair? Surely we get to lift and take relief? Or are we stuck in this most unfortunate abnormal course condition?

This one is going to raise an eyebrow. So let’s get stuck in…

ground under repair

Are tractor ruts ground under repair?

Sometimes life is not fair and this is one of those occasions where every fibre of your being screams you should be entitled to relief. It might always not be forthcoming, though.

The definitions to the Rules of Golf are full of nuggets and a clarification to the meaning of ground under repair reveals that not all damage caused by the club maintenance team is ground under repair by default – and a rut made by a tractor is one of the examples.

Now, all is not necessarily lost. Ground under repair can be “any part of the course the committee defines” it to be – whether marked or otherwise.

Depending on how deep the crevice goes, the same clarification calling foul on you earlier says the committee is “justified in declaring a deep rut to be ground under repair”. You’ll find plenty of clubs do just this.

If things have got particularly troubling, for example if it’s been raining cats and dogs and vehicles or deep footprints have caused “unusual damage to the course”, Model Local Rule F-4 can also define such areas to be GUR.

So take a look at your local rules, or bring a particularly treacherous looking rut to the attention of your club and try your luck.

But just chance it and take relief anyway? You might very well come unstuck and pick up a penalty for playing from the wrong place.

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.

What do you think of this ground under repair rule? Let me know by leaving a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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