Is it In or Out?
Have you ever had the discussion on the course with your opponent about what’s in bounds and what’s out of bounds? It frequently comes and up and you would be surprised to hear some of the answers.
As usual, let’s first take a look at the definition. The Rules of Golf say that “Out of Bounds” is beyond the boundaries of the course or any part of the course so marked by the Committee. When out of bounds is defined by reference to stakes or a fence or as being beyond stakes or a fence, the out of bounds line is determined by the nearest inside points at ground level of the stakes or fence posts (excluding angled supports)."
The part that trips up most people is which side of the stake or line is the “nearest inside point” of the stake. The answer is that the nearest inside point is the golf course side; that side nearest the fairway or green.
In the picture, you’ll notice a string that has been stretched along the nearest inside points of a couple of out of bounds stakes to check to see if this ball is in or out. (It’s a good idea to toss a hundred yards of dental floss in your bag in case you’ve got more than two bucks riding on this bet! It may be a wise investment.) That line is a super thin line that splits inbounds from out of bounds; regardless of the width of the stakes or the width of the line painted on the ground.
The definition goes on to tell us that “When out of bounds is defined by a line on the ground, the line itself is out of bounds.” In that case, the nearest inside edge (golf course side) of the line would define the boundary line.
Also, the definition tells us that “A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies out of bounds.” In the picture above, the ball is clearly out of bounds. But if it were half in and half out, it would still be in bounds. It has to be all the way out to be out of bounds.
Lastly, the definition tells us that “The out of bounds line extends vertically upwards and downwards.” So if your ball is in a bush or tree overhanging the boundary, you may have to use a plumb bob to see if it’s in or out!
Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.