Explaining the 'Bail-Out Area' on Golf Courses

What is a "bail-out area" on a golf course? First, let's explain what a "bail out" or "bail-out shot" is: Those terms refer to, for example, when a golfer plays well to the left because there is trouble on the right side of the hole. A "bail-out area" is a part of a golf hole that is specifically designed to provide the option of playing away from trouble.

In other words, a bail-out area is designed to provide a safer alternative to golfers who don't want to attempt the riskier play that some golfers will choose to make on that hole.

Picture an approach shot into a par-4 green with a water hazard wrapping around the green from the back left, down the green's left side, and across the front of the green. A golfer who hits a great drive, or a golfer who has great confidence in his iron play, or simply a golfer who enjoys taking risks might well hit the approach shot over the water, going directly at the green.

But not every golfer has that confidence — or had a good enough drive — to try carrying the water hazard. So the golf course architect might add a "bail-out area" up the right side of the green. It could be, in this example, an extension of the fairway or other closely-mowed area that allows golfers the option of trying to take the water out of play.

Bail-out areas take many different forms, and that is just one of many, many ways a course designer can use them. But their purpose is always to provide a less-risky (or simply an easier) shot option for golfers who are not risk-takers; whose previous shot didn't put them into position to try a more direct shot; or who are simply not skilled enough to go directly at the target.

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