This week in our Ask the Ref feature, we ask Women & Golf’s rules expert Sheila Waltham: Do I have to take relief from GUR?

GUR, or Ground Under Relief, is basically an area of the course that has been damaged or is under repair, and is therefore deemed unfit for play.

Unless the area has been marked as a No Play Zone, then you're entitled to take free relief if you hit your ball in an area defined as GUR.

But do you always have to take relief?

What is GUR?

Let's start from the beginning: What is GUR?

According to The R&A, it is:

Any part of the course the Committee defines to be ground under repair (whether by marking it or otherwise). Any defined ground under repair includes both:

  • All ground inside the edge of the defined area, and
  • Any grass, bush, tree or other growing or attached natural object rooted in the defined area, including any part of those objects that extends up above the ground outside the edge of the defined area (but not when such object is attached to or below the ground outside the edge of the defined area, such as a tree root that is part of a tree rooted inside the edge).

Ground under repair also includes the following things, even if the Committee does not define them as such:

  • Any hole made by the Committee or the maintenance staff in:
    • Setting up the course (such as a hole where a stake has been removed or the hole on a double green being used for the play of another hole), or
    • Maintaining the course (such as a hole made in removing turf or a tree stump or laying pipelines, but not including aeration holes).
  • Grass cuttings, leaves and any other material piled for later removal. But:
    • Any natural materials that are piled for removal are also loose impediments, and
    • Any materials left on the course that are not intended to be removed are not ground under repair unless the Committee has defined them as such.
  • Any animal habitat (such as a bird’s nest) that is so near a player’s ball that the player’s stroke or stance might damage it, except when the habitat has been made by animals that are defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).

The edge of ground under repair should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features.

Taking relief from GUR

By Sheila Waltham

Let's consider this scenario: You've played the ball exactly as you intended to give yourself a good approach shot to the green. When you arrive at the ball, it's lying in an area marked as GUR.

Ground Under Repair (GUR) is one of the conditions included in the Definition of an Abnormal Course Condition.

That means that you may take free relief, and you can drop your ball within one club length from the nearest point of complete relief.

However, you do not have to take this relief. If you prefer, you can simply play the ball as it lies, as per Rule 16.1.

The only time when it is mandatory to take relief from GUR is if the area has been marked as a No Play Zone.

About the author

Sheila Waltham

Sheila Waltham has been a qualified rules official for over 15 years and joined the England Golf Tournament Panel of Referees in 2019. A keen golfer since 1995, Sheila’s interest in the Rules was born out of the realisation that a lot of the information she received as a novice golfer was incorrect. So, she took matters into her own hands!

Become a whizz on the rules and check out our previous Ask the Ref features, like this one: One Club length or two? >