How To Take Relief From GUR And Common Misconceptions

Here is a rules of golf question I received today, it covers key points relating to GUR and some misconceptions. It made sense to share it with everyone.


“If a player has established his point of relief from a GUR, ( right hand side of the GUR ) which is aprox. 10 meters from the green, and uses his 3 wood to measure this, and then uses the same wood to measure his 2 club lengths allowed for his free drop, and then proceeds to use his wedge to play the next shot – does the player get a penalty for not measuring the first from the GUR with his wedge? If so, how many penalty strokes?


“The definition of ‘nearest point of relief’ includes these words; ‘In order to determine the nearest point of relief accurately, the player should use the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke. Notice that it says ‘should’. In other words there is no penalty for using a different club. However, a Committee would be justified in giving a warning, and then some form of sanction, to someone who deliberately ignored this explicit recommendation in the Rules.

The next point is important. When taking relief from GUR, an abnormal ground condition, the player must drop the ball, without penalty, within ONE club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. Believing that the relief is within TWO club-lengths is a common mistake made by golfers. The two club-length relief applies to situations where the player incurs a penalty, e.g. one of the options for an unplayable ball, or opting to take relief from a lateral water hazard.

On your second point Rule 4-4 states ‘For the purpose of measuring, a player may use any club he has selected for that round’. Therefore there is nothing to stop a player from using a 3 wood, a driver, or even a long-handled putter, providing he uses one of his own clubs.

However, using a long-handled putter is considered by some to be poor etiquette and I would avoid doing this.”

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Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this information on the Rules of Golf I am human and have been known to be wrong! Neither I, nor anyone connected with, shall be held responsible for any losses caused by reliance upon the accuracy or reliability of such information. Readers should refer to the full text of the rules and decisions as published in the official publications of the R&A and the USGA, The Rules of Golf 2008-2011 and Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2008-2009.

5 Responses to “How To Take Relief From GUR And Common Misconceptions”

  1. Barry Rhodes says:


    The only options when dropping within a club-length of the nearest point of relief would mean that your ball would be in a less favourable position, is to play the ball as it lies (assuming thet you have not already picked it up), or returning to where you last played from under penalty of stroke and distance. It is a common misunderstanding that taking relief under the Rules from an immovable obstruction or abnormal ground condition will provide the player with a more favourable stroke.

    Barry Rhodes

  2. Robyn says:

    My question is If when taking relief from gur if the nearest point of relief puts you behind trees or inhibits your swing is there any other course of action one can take? I was standing on a cart path and also standing in gur and behind me closest to me was only bush with nowhere to drop. I dropped out of the gur in rough but with a swing possible. The gur is a newly grassed area in front of the green.

  3. Mick Bagnall says:

    If when taking relief from gur if the nearest point of relief puts you behind trees or inhibits your swing is there any other course of action one can take?

  4. Keith says:

    Andy. On our course there is a lake which my wife and her girl friends have difficulty driving across, they try but after losing balls galore walk round and drop one the other side. My question is what penalty do they incur, 3 off the tee and then drop one making four or what? Please can you help us out? By the way your magic strokes are brilliant, it’s brought my handicap down!

    Regards Keith Dighton

    Barry’s Reply:


    I am replying on behalf of Andy Brown and

    Unfortunately, by dropping a ball on the far side of the lake the girls are playing from a wrong place and have to disqualified from any competition. You are right in saying that if their original ball is lost in the lake they may play again from the teeing ground, playing their 3rd stroke. However, there is another option. They may drop a ball at the margin of the water hazard anywhere on a line from the flagstick through the place where their ball last crossed the margin, under penalty of one stroke. In most cases this would mean that there would be much less carry over the water than from the teeing ground.

    My main recommendation here is that you pass on Andy’s four secret magic moves to your wife and her girl friends so that they quickly gain enough confidence and distance to clear the lake every time!

    Kind Regards


  5. peter cox says:

    Hi Andy!

    Great site. I’ve learnt a lot from the rules questions – there are several rules that I’ve not really understood until now.

    Thanks a lot

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