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I am an occasional (and fairly terrible) golfer. I played a round the other day and was confronted with an odd situation. I sliced a ball through some trees and onto the adjacent fairway. I still had 200-250 metres left to the pin after this shot. When I got to my ball, I noted that the trees between me and hole or the fairway of the hole I was playing were thick and high, whereas about 150 closer to the hole, the trees really thinned out. I therefore played a shot up the 'wrong' fairway to a position where I could relatively easily chip to the green through the sparse area of trees.

This was a social game, so I wasn't too worried, but was what I did legal under the Laws of Golf? Is there any compulsion to play along the 'correct' fairway when possible? Also, aside from any letter of the law considerations, what etiquette issues might doing this present?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

In Golf, can you choose to play down the 'wrong' fairway?

This depends on local course rules.

  • Courses define out-of-bounds.
  • Do fences, lines, and/or stakes mark out-of-bounds boundaries?

Some courses mark boundaries per each hole, which means you cannot chose to play down the "wrong" fairway, or fairway of a different hole. However, some courses mark boundaries only per hazard (a body of water, a swamp, a forest, etc.).

If the course does not mark boundaries per each hole, then that course does not prohibit playing down the "wrong" fairway. If you are playing recreationally, chances are that your playing partners will not mind if you play down the "wrong" fairway. Perhaps the group playing that hole might.

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Thanks. Out of interest, what is the typical situation in major Pro tournaments? Do these define out-of-bounds for each hole? Would you ever see Tiger Woods playing down the wrong fairway? –  Bogdanovist Jan 14 at 21:11
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Tiger has played from the wrong fairway before, so I surmise that the same sentiment applies. –  edmastermind29 Jan 14 at 22:01

You are fine. The seniors on my home course did it all the time during T.V tournaments. Now slowing up play and nailing a fellow competitor playing a adjacent fairway might cause some sparks.

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