Through the Green (Definition of the Golf Term)

"Through the green" is — make that was — a term used in The Official Rules of Golf that applied to all parts of the golf course once you subtracted tees, greens and hazards. The term was dropped from the rule book beginning in 2019, but because it was used by golfers and rules officials for decades, "through the green" will likely live on in the golf lexicon for years to come.

The definition of "through the green" that appeared in the Rules of Golf was this:

"Through the green" is the whole area of the course except:
a. The teeing ground and putting green of the hole being played; and
b. All hazards on the course.
Hazards refers to bunkers and bodies of water or areas designated as water hazards. (Hazards, by the way, is also a term that has been dropped from the rule book.) Once you remove hazards, plus the tee and green of the hole you are playing, what's left on a golf course? Fairways and rough, plus tees and greens of the other holes, and any natural or unkept areas that are within the course boundaries. So that is what "through the green" meant in practice: fairways and rough on a golf course, plus the tees and greens on all the holes you are not currently playing.

Using "through the green" in the rule book was just a bit of shorthand: Rather than the USGA and R&A having to spell out each time, "when your ball is in the fairway or the rough, but not on the tee or green of the hole you are playing, or in a hazard," the governing bodies could simply say, "when your ball is through the green ..."

The phrase could cause some confusion, however. After all, "through the green" makes it sound like a golf ball has gone over the putting green. "That ball just ran through the green," a golfer might say, referring to such a result.

Perhaps that is why, with the 2019 revisions to the Rules of Golf, the USGA and R&A decided to drop the usage of "through the green." It was replaced by "general area," and "the general area of the golf course" now means what "through the green" used to mean.

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