Rules Corner Blog

Marking Hazards at Sebonack

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By Rob Ockenfuss, USGA

Beautifully situated on the shores of Peconic Bay in eastern Long Island, Sebonack Golf Club serves as the host for the 68th U.S. Women’s Open Championship. Four holes (9, 11, 12 and 18) border this body of water, which could play a significant part in determining the champion this week.

A bay falls under the definition of a Water Hazard. In the case of this particular water hazard, which is located parallel to these holes, the Committee has defined the bay as a Lateral Water Hazard.

The lateral water hazard margin on these holes is defined by red stakes only, although a small portion of the hazard on No. 18 is defined by a line. This method of marking is atypical at a USGA championship, as the margin is normally identified by stakes and defined by a line – see Definition of Water Hazard. However, due to the nature of the topography near these holes, the Committee chose to mark the hazard in this fashion under Rule 33-2

There are a few ways a Committee may choose to mark water hazards on the golf course: stakes only, lines only or a combination of stakes and lines. When defined by stakes, the hazard margin is defined by the nearest outside points at ground level, as is the case at Sebonack. When a line defines the margin, the line is in the hazard. When stakes and lines are used to indicate a water hazard, the stakes identify and the line defines the margin. It’s important to note that a ball is in the water hazard when it lies in or any part touches the water hazard margin. This information can be found in the definitions of Water Hazard and Lateral Water Hazard.

Finally, if it is known or virtually certain that the player’s ball came to rest in a water hazard or lateral water hazard, Rule 26-1 applies.

The USGA will provide up to two Rules of Golf books for minimal shipping and handling charge. Please contact the USGA Order Department at 1-800-336-4446, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) or go to the USGA Shop on

Rob Ockenfuss is Manager, Rules Inquiries for the USGA.

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