Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ask Linda #268-Internal out of bounds

Hi Linda

I have a question about when “out of bounds” is “out of bounds!”

On my course in Bahrain in the Middle East, we have an "internal" out of bounds running down the left side of the 5th fairway. This out of bounds also applies on the right side of the parallel 9th fairway (which runs in the same direction as the 5th fairway ). Our local rules on the scorecard states the following:

"The following areas are out of bounds:
a) To the left of the 5th and right of the 9th defined by white posts."

It says nothing about applying the out of bounds rule only when playing those holes.

My question now is the following. If someone is teeing off on our 6th hole, which runs parallel to the 5th fairway but further from the OB stakes, and he hooks his ball very badly and the ball ends up to the left of the white stakes defining out of bounds on the 5th fairway, are they in fact out of bounds even though they are playing the 6th hole?

My way of thinking is that the ball must still be out of bounds. Several golfers from my club have said that the OB area only applies to the 5th hole and therefore the ball played from the 6th tee-box is not OB. My argument is that, if I end up in a water hazard or bunker on a different hole to that which I am playing I don't ignore that hazard but have to play it as a hazard, so why should I ignore the out of bounds stakes on a different hole? Also this out of bounds area to the left of the 5th fairway used to be a lateral water hazard so surely in those days you still regarded your ball being in the lateral water hazard even if you hit the ball from a different fairway to that of the 5th.

Hope you can help. Should our local rules card then not state “out of bounds to the left of the 5th and right of the 9th hole only when playing those respective holes?”

Many thanks
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

Your assessment is correct. Any ball that settles in the area between the 5th and 9th fairways that is marked as out of bounds is, indeed, out of bounds. It is not where you hit your ball from–but rather where your ball ends up–that determines its status. The area is properly marked with white stakes, and your scorecard thoughtfully warns golfers of an internal out of bounds area.

You may be interested to know that a Committee may write a Local Rule declaring a certain area on the golf course out of bounds on one hole, but in play for all other holes. Let me give you an example of a situation where a Committee might write such a Local Rule:

Let’s say your course has a hole that is a dogleg, and that players could aim their drives at an adjacent fairway to “cut” the dogleg. If such drives would pose a danger for players on that adjacent fairway, the Committee might decide to place out of bounds markers as a safety measure. The Local Rule would state that those out of bounds markers are in effect only for play on the dogleg hole. The rule should further state that players on the other hole should treat those markers as immovable obstructions.

In the case of the internal out of bounds at your course, there doesn’t seem to be a clear justification for designating the area out of bounds only during play of the 5th and 9th holes. I can’t imagine why a golfer hitting a wildly errant shot that lands in that area should be less penalized than a player whose shot strayed more understandably off course.

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