Known Or Virtually Certain Explained - Rules Of Golf

GM Rules guru Jezz Ellwood explains the term 'Known or virtually certain'

Known Or Virtually Certain Explained - Rules Of Golf
(Image credit: Getty images)

GM Rules guru Jezz Ellwood explains the term 'Known or virtually certain'

Known Or Virtually Certain Explained - Rules Of Golf

One of the terms at the back of the rule book is 'Known or virtually certain' and here we look to define what exactly that means when out on the golf course.

It's a phrase you'll find quite a lot in the rule book, talking about the likelihood or something having happened, which then dictates how you proceed.

Related: 10 biggest rules of golf myths

Often that will be whether or not your ball has gone into a penalty area, it could be whether your ball has moved or it could even be what has caused your ball to move.

The rules say that known means there is conclusive evidence that the ball went in to where you believe it went into.

So if and your playing partners see a splash in the water there is conclusive evidence that your ball landed in the penalty area.

Virtually certain means that you're 95% sure what happened to your ball.

That is obviously difficult to define but, for example, if you saw your ball land short of the water and you can't see it, you can be virtually certain that it went into the penalty area and proceed under those rules.

Related: 10 rules golfers still get wrong

If you hit the ball into thick rough near a penalty area, you can't be 95% virtually certain that it made its way into the penalty area and you would have to presume that the ball was lost and go back to where you played your original shot from.

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Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5