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Internal out of bounds might well play a part in deciding the winner of this week’s Open Championship.

Whoever is leading the Open come Sunday afternoon at Royal Liverpool will have to negotiate a final hole fraught with danger, but it might not be for the reason you expect.

Down the right side of the 609-yard par-5 is internal out of bounds, which separates the golf course from the tented village at Hoylake. For those who are preserving a lead in the championship, it makes the strategy a no-brainer but for those chasing a birdie or better, it creates a conundrum.

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The shape of the hole means that for those taking the green on, a line over the out of bounds will be required.

What should be a good birdie chance for players might turn into a three-shot hole, such is the penalty for a shot that misses to the right of the fairway.

It’s not just the 18th hole either. The third hole (which is the opening hole for members at Royal Liverpool) also features out of bounds down the right side of the fairway.

This boundary once again is designed to keep players away from the massive tented village at the year’s final major championship. Although it shouldn’t come into play, it eliminates any option of taking on the corner of the 426-yard par-4 and will certainly come into the player’s thinking for both their tee shot and approach shot.

But, what is internal out of bounds and how does it work?

In the same way that white stakes determine the boundary of a golf course, any ball over the white line of internal out of bounds is out of play.

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If you’re unlucky enough to find your ball over that white line, you’ll need to reload from the last place you played from. If that’s the tee box, you’ll be playing three off the tee.

Should internal out of bounds be in play?

It depends who you ask, but many will be against its use this week. Generally, out of bounds is in play to determine the boundary of the golf course. For example, if a fairway runs adjacent to a road or a field, then it will be out of bounds.

Internal out of bounds hoylake

In some cases, internal out of bounds will be in play for safety reasons. Take the PGA Championship at Oak Hill for example, where the seventh fairway was deemed out of bounds for those playing the sixth hole. While no one aiming to hit the sixth fairway was likely to find the seventh, it eliminated the chance for players to take a rather unconventional approach to the hole.

This week, while the out of bounds will keep players away from the spectator village, it will also eliminate a large area of dead ground that is short and right of the par-5 green. For members, this would be in play but for the pros, if you end up here, it’s a reload.

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

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