General Area

Definition of the General Area

General area includes everywhere on the course except bunkers, penalty areas, the teeing area and putting green of the hole a golfer is playing. All teeing areas and putting greens of any other holes are parts of the general area of the currently played hole.

A fairway, rough, shrubs, trees (areas with grass or other vegetation) and waste areas (e.g. waste bunkers) constitute the general area. Golfers there normally play their balls “as they lie” except places with abnormal course condition (including artificial structures, temporary water, and ground under repair).

General area at a golf course


Fairway and Rough

The main element of a general area is fairway, which is a route from teeing areas to the putting green. The grass on the fairway is mowed short, but higher than on the putting greens.

Off the fairway the grass is taller and is called rough. It usually runs along the fairway on both sides of it and around the green. Sometimes a narrow band (1-3 yards wide) of rough just off the fairway is mowed by greenkeepers to around the mid-point between the height of the fairway and the height of the rough grasses. It is called a semi rough or a first cut.

Often there are also areas with natural and unkempt vegetation further away from the line of play and the fairway. These areas are called extreme rough.

fairway , rough and extreme rough


The average grass cutting height is:
fairway                    3/8 – 1/2 in. (10-12 mm)
– semi rough             1 – 1,5 in. (25-38 mm)
rough                       2 – 6 in. (50-150 mm)
extreme rough      not mowed regularly


Special zones of the General Area

There may also be special zones set out in the Rules of Golf  within the general area.

The Ground Under Repair (GUR) is designated if a specific area should be environmentally protected or play is not possible due to the course conditions, repairs and maintenance issues. If a player’s ball lies in this area, or if it interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing, the player must take the mandatory relief.

If any entry into and/or play from a specific area is prohibited it is marked as No Play Zone (NPZ). Searching for and/or picking up a ball resting inside this area is also prohibited. The mandatory relief must be taken – free or with penalty stroke depending on the situation.

more about ground under repair …
more about no play zone …


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update: April 2021