Rules of Golf: Boundary Walls

We run through some of the options available to your if you come up close to a boundary wall.

Rules of Golf: Boundary Walls
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We run through some of the options available to your if you come up close to a boundary wall.

Rules of Golf: Boundary Walls

The subject of boundary walls, and what to do if your ball is lying close to one, forms the subject of this video from our Rules of Golf series produced in association with The R&A.

Elsewhere on the golf course, permanent structures such as toilet buildings, shelters or halfway huts will be deemed immovable obstructions from which you can obtain relief, but only if your ball is lying in or on them, or they interfere with your stance or area of intended swing. But not when it comes to walls that define the boundary of the course, as in this video.

When walls, or indeed fences or railings, form the boundary of the course, they are deemed to be fixed, and no relief is available should your ball be lying so close to them as to make your next shot either very difficult or impossible.

You can always attempt to play the ball in some way, whether via a shortened stroke, playing in the wrong direction or attempting a ricochet off the wall.

But do remember that under Rule 14-1, the ball must be fairly struck at, and anything that constitutes a pushing, scraping or spooning action will cost you two strokes, or loss of hole in matchplay.

Related: 7 Golf Rules Mistakes Every Golfer Makes

Taking an unplayable is necessary sometimes (Kevin Murray)

If you decide not to play it, you may proceed under Rule 19 (ball unplayable), in which theoretically at least, you have three options, all under penalty of one stroke.

You can go back to where you last played from; drop within two club-lengths not nearer the hole; or go back as far as you like on a line keeping the point where your ball lies between you and the flag. Obviously when you do drop, be sure to do it from knee height as was outlined in the new Rules of Golf changes brought in back in 2019.

If the boundary wall runs parallel to the hole or beyond the green (as most will), the third option outlined above won't be available as you can’t drop your ball out of bounds! And if, as in our video, the boundary wall is by a green, it’s quite possible that the second option won't be available either, as it might be impossible to drop within two club lengths not nearer the hole.

So the harsh reality is that sometimes the only realistic option when your ball is lying right next to a boundary wall will be the long walk back to where you last played from!

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response