Rules Review – Parts of the Golf Course 4

Part Four of a Four-Part Series

Every golf course is divided into four major parts.  Understanding these four parts of the golf course is essential to understanding HOW to apply the Rules of Golf. In the next four weeks we are going to discuss the four parts of the golf course.


Week Four: Through The Green

My very favorite part of the golf course – through the green! It is the most difficult and the most simple part of the golf course to describe. Through the green is the whole area of the course except a) the teeing ground and putting green of the hole being played and b) all hazards on the course. Let’s pretend we’re playing Hole No. 5  – here are a few examples of through the green:

  • the putting green of Hole No. 7
  • any fairway on the golf course
  • the teeing ground of Hole No. 6
  • every single bit of rough on the golf course
  • trees, bushes, flower beds, pine straw beds, knee-high fescue grass
  • the fringe anywhere

Why is this important? When you are referencing your Rules book, you will notice that in relief situations, Rules will normally distinguish between the parts of the course and how to take relief in each part. You must know what through the green means in order to make sure you are in the correct spot to take relief under that portion of a Rule.


One of the most common misconceptions in golf is that if your ball is in the rough and you decide to take relief from an immovable obstruction (like in the picture above), you must find your nearest point of relief and drop your ball in the rough because you must stay in “like condition”. THIS IS FALSE! Because the fairway and the rough are both through the green, you can drop that ball anywhere that is through the green and within a club length of your nearest point of relief. The player in the picture above is welcome to take his relief in the fairway! (Decision 24-2b/8)

Helpful hints about through the green:

  • When you are finding your nearest point of relief from an immovable obstruction  (Rule 24-2), abnormal ground conditions (Rule 25-1) such as ground under repair or casual water, or from a wrong putting green (Rule 25-3), it is important to know that you must find your NEAREST point of relief, and not necessarily your NICEST point of relief. So, if you are taking relief from a cart path (immovable obstruction) and there are bushes that line the cart path, what are those bushes? They are through the green. Therefore, your nearest point of relief could be right in the middle of those bushes. Those bushes have the same status as the fairway and the rough!
  • Almost all amateur competitions (and many professional competitions) use the local Rule in Appendix I that gives players relief for an embedded ball through the green and not just in the fairway.
  • It’s important to know about margins (where through the green begins and ends) so that you get your maximum available relief and take relief if the correct way. For example, if your ball was in a grass-covered face of a bunker (see below), your options for an unplayable ball would be much different than if your ball was actually IN the bunker. (Rule 28)


Make sure to check back soon for for another Rules Review!
Questions about through the green? Email Maggie.

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