The subject of boundary walls, and what to do if your ball is lying close to one, forms the subject of this video from our Rules of Golf series produced in association with The R&A.
Elsewhere on the golf course, permanent structures such as toilet buildings, shelters or halfway huts will be deemed immovable obstructions from which you can obtain relief, but only if your ball is lying in or on them, or they interfere with your stance or area of intended swing. But not when it comes to walls that define the boundary of the course, as in this video.
When walls, or indeed fences or railings, form the boundary of the course, they are deemed to be fixed, and no relief is available should your ball be lying so close to them as to make your next shot either very difficult or impossible.
You can always attempt to play the ball in some way, whether via a shortened stroke, playing in the wrong direction or attempting a ricochet off the wall.
But do remember that under Rule 14-1, the ball must be fairly struck at, and anything that constitutes a pushing, scraping or spooning action will cost you two strokes, or loss of hole in matchplay.
If you decide not to play it, you may proceed under Rule 28 (ball unplayable), in which theoretically at least, you have three options, all under penalty of one stroke. You can go back to where you last played from; drop within two club-lengths not nearer the hole; or go back as far as you like on a line keeping the point where your ball lies between you and the flag.
If the boundary wall runs parallel to the hole or beyond the green (as most will), the third option outlined above won’t be available as you can’t drop your ball out of bounds! And if, as in our video, the boundary wall is by a green, it’s quite possible that the second option won’t be available either, as it might be impossible to drop within two club lengths not nearer the hole.
So the harsh reality is that sometimes the only realistic option when your ball is lying right next to a boundary wall will be the long walk back to where you last played from!