What Is Ground Under Repair on a Golf Course?

Ground under repair in a fairway on a golf course

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"Ground under repair" is a term used in the Rules of Golf and applied to certain conditions on a golf course. Ground under repair—golfers often spell it or say it as "GUR"—falls under the heading of an abnormal ground condition and is exactly what its name implies: ground that is being repaired by the course superintendent or maintenance crew.

Official Definition of Ground Under Repair in the Rules

Following is the definition of "ground under repair" as written by the USGA and R&A, and as it appears in the Official Rules of Golf. (Note: This is the condensed definition in the Player's Edition of the rules; the Full Edition of the rules includes a longer definition.)

Any part of the course the Committee defines to be ground under repair (whether by marking it or otherwise).
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: a)  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 b) 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: a) any natural materials that are piled for removal are also loose impediments, and b) 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 your ball that your 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 or lines:
*Stakes: When defined by stakes, the edge of the ground under repair is defined by the line between the outside points of the stakes at ground level, and the stakes are inside the ground under repair.
*Lines: When defined by a painted line on the ground, the edge of the ground under repair is the outside edge of the line, and the line itself is in the ground under repair.

Summarizing GUR

Ground under repair should be designated as such by the course, either by staking, roping or otherwise marking the area affected (such as with lines painted on the ground around the area.)

Free relief is given to any golfer whose ball comes to rest in the area or touching it — so long as the area is marked as ground under repair by the course. The only exceptions to that are any hole dug by a greenkeeper, and any material piled for removal by a greenkeeper (including grass cuttings and leaves, which can also be treated as loose impediments). Those constitute ground under repair even if they are not marked as such.

All ground inside an area marked as ground under repair is, itself, defined as ground under repair, as is any growing or attached natural object within that area, such as a tree or bush.

Ground under repair is covered in the rulebook in Rule 16, which focuses on abnormal ground conditions. Check that rule for more details about ground under repair and the proper procedures.