Ask the Rules Guy: Boundary Issues

Ask the Rules Guy

Rules Guy,
I hit my drive close to a fence and the only way to advance my ball would be to stand on the other side of the fence (out of bounds) and hit it from there. Is this possible to do without penalty?
— Michael Munday, via Facebook

This is a shockingly common question, as a lot of players are confused by the rules regarding out of bounds. These players are easily recognized, as they can be seen scurrying to their rulebooks every time their ball comes within a few yards of an OB marker. Assuming that you are able to actually swing at your ball "through" the fence (and I doubt you'd be asking this question if you couldn't), this particular situation is anything but unusual, and the answer is so simple that it's dealt with right up at the front of the Rules of Golf. According to the very definition of out of bounds, a ball is only OB "when all of [the ball] lies out of bounds." In fact, the USGA specifically states that a player is entitled to stand out of bounds to play a ball lying within bounds. So, the next time you find your feet crossing that imaginary line, have no fear — you're doing it without penalty.