Over the River and Through the Green... | Oregon Golf Association

Over the River and Through the Green...

OGA Senior Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly

Parts of the Course: Through the Green

This month’s focus is an area of the course defined as “through the green.”  The definition of through the green can be found on page 44 of the 2016 Rules of Golf book and will be helpful in answering this month’s questions.  The definition section, starting on page 30, is used more than any other part of the Rules when answering questions received at the USGA.  Every golfer who spends time reading the definitions will be a step ahead when applying the Rules on the course.  

Questions:   True/False

  1. During play of the first hole, all the other putting greens on the course are through the green.
  2. Only hazards located on the hole being played are excluded from the definition of through the green.
  3. A player declares his ball unplayable in the rough and drops a ball within two club-lengths of where it lay.  However, he drops in the fairway.  The player incurs only the one stroke penalty for declaring his ball unplayable.
  4. A ball that rolls off the back of the green on an approach shot is deemed to have ran “through the green”.
  5. If a ball lies through the green and the player declares it unplayable she may drop a ball in a bunker or water hazard when proceeding under any option of Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable).
  6. A player’s ball lies on a cart path through the green.  He determines the nearest point of relief and drops a ball within one club-length of that spot.  However, the drop is within the margin of a lateral water hazard.  The ball must be dropped again outside the hazard.
  7. Relief for an embedded ball is always available provided the ball lies through the green.
  8. If part of the ball lies through the green but also touches a water hazard line it is deemed to lie through the green.
  9. Sandy areas of the course, such as sand dunes, are not considered through the green.
  10. A player’s ball lies a few yards off the putting green and casual water on the putting green intervenes on her line of play.  Because her ball lies through the green she is not allowed relief without penalty.


  1.  True.  In regards to putting greens, only the putting green of the hole being played is excluded from the definition of through the green.  Therefore, all the other putting greens are through the green and any procedure must follow the guidelines for a ball located through the green.  It is important to note that the other putting greens on the course are considered wrong putting greens from which play is prohibited (See def. Through the green, wrong putting green & Rule 25-3).
  2. False.  Every hazard, whether a bunker or water hazard, is excluded from the definition of through the green.  Prohibitions and procedures are very different when a ball lies in a hazard as opposed to a ball lying through the green.  Stay tuned as we will be covering bunkers and water hazards in the coming months. 
  3. True.  There is no distinction between the rough and fairway in the Rules.  Both are considered through the green.  In this case, the player proceeded correctly and was possibly able to better his lie by dropping in the fairway.
  4. False.  A ball rolling off the back of the green is commonly referred to on television as having run “through the green”.  However, it is not part of the definition.  While a ball that rolls off the green may lie through the green it may also lie in a hazard.  When studying and learning the Rules it is important to use the proper words and definitions because many golf slangs mean slightly different things.  
  5. True.  Under Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) there is no prohibition from dropping in a hazard after declaring the ball unplayable through the green.  However, the reverse is not true when declaring a ball in a bunker unplayable.  In that case, she would not be permitted to drop through the green unless she was proceeding under the stroke and distance option and her previous stroke was made from through the green.  Additionally, a player may not declare her ball unplayable in a water hazard under Rule 28.  Rule 26 is the applicable relief Rule when a player’s ball can’t be played as it lies in a water hazard.
  6. True.  When taking relief without penalty for a ball that lies through the green, the nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard and the ball, when dropped, must be dropped through the green.  Therefore, the ball has been dropped in a wrong place and the error must be corrected prior to playing the ball or the player would incur a loss of hole penalty in match play or a two-stroke penalty in stroke play.  See Rule 24.
  7. False. Under Rule 25-2, relief for an embedded ball is only available when the ball lies through the green and in an area of grass cut to fairway height or less.  However, by a Local Rule, Committees in charge of competitions may provide relief for an embedded ball anywhere through the green with one exception.  Relief without penalty is not available when a ball is embedded in a sandy area through the green that is not closely mown (e.g. dunes).
  8. False.  Although most of the ball might lie through the green, when any part of the ball touches a water hazard it is considered in the hazard.  Thus, the player must be careful he doesn’t breach Rule 13-4 by grounding his club in the hazard.  Take special note to this answer as you are likely to see this question again when we focus on water hazards.
  9. False.  Other than bunkers and in water hazards, any sandy areas that haven’t been marked or designated as hazards are through the green.  Thus, a player may take practice swings allowing the club to touch the sand.  Additionally, because the ball lies through the green, loose impediments near the ball may be removed.
  10. True.  Rule 25 allows relief for the line of play only when the ball lies on the putting green.  As her ball lies through the green she must play it as it lies or declare it unplayable under a one-stroke penalty.  She is also prohibited from removing the casual water by Rule 13-2 as the action would improve her intended line of play.

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