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.
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 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 even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, 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 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...
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