Rules Guy: Are you allowed to take free relief from the green’s collar?

What do the rules say about taking relief from the collar?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

During a recent round a playing partner’s ball finished on the green, but against the cuff. He said the new rules allow players to take relief without penalty by moving the ball off the green and placing it onto the cut, next to where his ball had been resting against the cuff. I have been unable to find anything supporting this in the Rules. Am I missing something?
— Roger Gant, Western Cape, South Africa

“Cuff”? “Cut”? Rules Guy is a sucker for foreign lingo and proud to have a global readership!

Assuming “cuff” is what we in the U.S. call collar and “cut” your version of fringe, then the answers is, no, you’re not missing anything.

While in miniature golf you get a putter-head worth of relief from the bumper, there’s no equivalent in real golf. It’s possible that your playing partner was confusing the Rules with Model Local Rule F-19, which provides relief from edging grooves using the procedures in Rule 16.1 based on where the ball lies. If (a) it was an edging groove, (b) his ball was on the putting green and (c) the Model Local Rule was in effect, he’d have been required to place the ball at the nearest point of complete relief — and that point could be in the general area (conceivably, the fringe) … but it doesn’t sound like this was the case.

Thanks for writing, my boet! (That’s “brother,” dear American readers.)

For more relief-related guidance from our guru, read on …

dirt cart path
Rules Guy: Are you allowed to take free relief from a dirt cart path?
By: Rules Guy

A buddy of mine recently chunked an approach shot so badly that he laid the sod over his ball — literally. A toupee of turf, still connected to the ground, flopped over on top of his Titleist, rendering it pretty much unhittable. Given that this impediment wasn’t “loose,” was he still entitled to free relief?
— Josh Brown, Oakland, Calif.

The dreaded toupee, no better suited to the golf course than to the bald pate … As you suspect, an attached divot isn’t a loose impediment, so there’s no free relief on offer for this rather comical calamity. Your pal must either play the ball as it lies — near impossible, apparently — or, if the ball is in the general area, take unplayable ball relief under Rule 19 for one penalty stroke.

If the ball was in a penalty area, penalty area relief would likewise be available under Rule 17, also for one penalty stroke. The problem with attempting to move the divot in this scenario is that it’s essentially impossible to do so without improving the player’s conditions affecting the stroke — and doing that results in the general penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

Like a toupee itself, that’s adding insult to injury.

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Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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