No Play Zone

No Play Zone is a protected area on the course that is forbidden to entry into and/or play from. Therefore, any searching for and/or picking up a ball resting inside this zone is prohibited. So the mandatory relief must be taken. The relief is also compulsory if the no play zone interferes with golfer’s stance or area of intended swing when playing a ball outside the zone.

No Play Zones are designated for environmental, historical or players’ safety reasons. They may be defined as:

  • Ground Under Repair (GUR) when, for example, a small area of rare plants is close to a fairway or putting green;
  • Penalty Area (PA) when, for example, the zone is located in an area of water (stream, lake etc.);
  • Out of Bounds (OB) when, for example, a course is next to privately-owned farmland and players have to be stopped from damaging anything growing in that area.

The relief procedure is different for each of the above cases. Naturally it must comply with the relevant Rule of Golf for the specific type of area. The applicable procedure is always described in Local Rules.

There are no specific colors of stakes and lines dedicated for marking no play zones. However, the most common marking is as follows:


Examples of marking:

No Play Zone marked as a Red Penalty Area:

no play zone NPZ in golf


No Play Zone marked as Out of Bounds (OB):

white stake with green top


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update: November 2021