RUB OF THE GREEN
SOUNDS LIKE: That's the way the ball bounces. Sometimes a bad shot turns out good, and other times a good shot turns out bad.
ACTUALLY MEANS: Anytime a ball in motion is deflected or stopped by an outside agency (see next entry). In most cases you must play the ball as it lies. See Rule 19-1 for the exceptions.
SOUNDS LIKE: Anything that affects your round, or ball, that is beyond your control.
ACTUALLY MEANS: Forecaddies, spectators, animals. Things that are not outside agencies include: wind, water, you, your partner, your opponent—in match play only—or your caddies, equipment (which includes carts) or golf balls.
THROUGH THE GREEN
SOUNDS LIKE: Any shot that goes over the back of the green.
ACTUALLY MEANS: It's any part of the course excluding the teeing area and putting green of the hole you're playing and any hazard. You might come across this term on a tournament rules sheet. For example, when you're allowed to lift, clean and place your ball in closely mowed areas (see next entry).
CLOSELY MOWED AREA
SOUNDS LIKE: Fairways, the fringe and putting greens.
ACTUALLY MEANS: Any area of the course, including paths in the rough and collection areas by a green, that are cut to fairway height or less—tee boxes included (Decision 25-2/8). You're allowed relief without penalty if your ball embeds in its pitch mark in any closely mowed area through the green.
GROUND UNDER REPAIR
SOUNDS LIKE: An area of the course that is marked and designated for improvements.
ACTUALLY MEANS: Parts of the course marked as damaged; or things that are not marked, including grass and branches that have been piled for removal, and holes made by course workers. You're entitled to free relief under the procedure similar to the one for casual water (see next entry) when your ball touches the GUR or if the area of the course interferes with your stance or intended swing.
SOUNDS LIKE: Puddles of rain or irrigation water on fairways and greens, and in bunkers.
ACTUALLY MEANS: Any temporary accumulation of water (not in a water hazard) that's visible before or after you take your stance. This includes snow and ice, though you can treat either as a loose impediment and move them out of your way. In most cases, you get a free drop within one club-length of the nearest point where the water doesn't interfere with your ball, stance or swing and isn't closer to the hole. This point can't be in a hazard or on a green. But, if your ball is already on the green and your stance, ball, stroke or line of putt is interfered with, lift the ball and place it at the nearest point of relief. That point might be off the green.
IT HAPPENED ON TOUR
PLAYER: Chesson Hadley
EVENT: Wells Fargo Championship
RULE IN QUESTION: 4-3 (Damaged clubs)
SITUATION: Caddie Josh Svendsen tripped on a TV cable and fell, dropping Hadley's bag—damaging the putter.
VERDICT: Hadley (in the pink pants) was allowed to keep using the putter because the damage occurred during the normal course of play (e.g., accidentally dropping it, in searching for a ball, leaning on it, removing it from the bag). He also could have repaired the club, if it didn't unduly delay play. But when a club is damaged in anger, it can't be used or replaced during that round.