Rules Of Golf: Through the Green

The various parts of a course are defined in the rules because they are often treated differently by those very rules.

It is important to understand the distinction between the different areas when you decide to take relief because it is impossible or uninviting to play the ball as it lies.

Rules Of Golf: Through the Green Rules Of Golf: Through the Green

Most golfers, including novices, can identify the putting greens and hazards on a course.

Identifying the teeing ground is a little trickier, because it is only the two club-length deep area behind the front and sides of the tee markers in which you are entitled to tee up when starting the hole being played; it’s not the entire tee box area in which the tee markers could be situated, nor is it the area behind the tee markers of any hole on the course not being played.

The area “through the green”, however, is misunderstood by the vast majority of players. Common misconceptions include that it is:

  • When a ball goes over the back of the green
  • The fairway
  • The rough

Surprisingly to some, the fairway and the rough are not defined in the rule book. The terms “fairway” and “rough” are only mentioned twice:

  • In Rule 25-2 (Embedded Ball) where it mentions that “Closely mown area” means any area of the ‘course’ including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less, and
  • In Appendix I Part B section 4c (“Preferred Lies” and “Winter Rules”). The note on page 133 also defines “closely mown area” as above.

The Rules, however, define “Through the Green” as “the whole area of the course except:

  • The Teeing Ground and putting green of the hole being played
  • All hazards on the course

It is important to understand this because it affects how relief can be taken from various conditions when the ball lies in this area.

For example, if your ball lies in the rough just off the fairway, and you are taking relief from an immovable obstruction or an abnormal ground condition such as casual water, the relief procedure outlined in Rules 24-2b and 25-1b (through the green), advises that you must drop the ball “within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the ‘nearest point of relief’.

The ‘nearest point of relief’ must not be in a hazard or on a putting green.

So, if the one club-length area takes you from the rough to the fairway, you would be entitled to drop the ball onto the fairway (Decision 24-2b/8).

Similarly, if your ball lies in the fairway and the preferred lie Local Rule is in effect, you can place the ball onto the longer grass in the rough if that spot in the rough is within the distance you are entitled to prefer your lie.

It’s that easy.