Ask the Rules Guy: Stake Out

February 2, 2013

Rules Guy: On the ninth hole of my local course I hit a drive down the left side, which has a street running along it. My friend said that my ball might be OB, so I hit a provisional. I then found my first ball in the left rough. On this hole there are white stakes that end shortly after the tee box and don't appear again for about 120 yards. My friend said I was out of bounds because I had to line up the two stakes, even though they were 120 yards apart. I argued I was in bounds because there were no stakes anywhere near my ball and nothing noted on the scorecard. I couldn't seem to find anything in the rules book. Please help.
— Charles Centore, via e-mail

Oh, it's there all right — you just have to look in the right place: Section II. The definition of out of bounds (OB) states that when defined by stakes, OB is the inside edge of the stakes at ground level. A string run along the inside edge from stake to stake would determine if the ball was in bounds or not. It's possible that some of the stakes may be missing on a course, but in your case a straight line between the two stakes that were on the hole would determine the boundary. At least your provisional saved you from a long walk back to the tee box.