Rules FAQ


Rule 26-1

Ball Rolling Back into Water Hazard

Q.  My ball landed on the putting green side of a pond in front of the green, but rolled back into the pond. Where do I drop a ball to play my next stroke?

A.  The answer depends on the type of hazard the ball rolled into. Under penalty of one stroke, if the ball entered into a water hazard, (yellow stakes and/or lines) or a lateral water hazard (red stakes and/or lines), the player may play a ball from as near as possible to where the original was last played (Rule 26-1a), or drop a ball behind the hazard keeping the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard between himself and the hole (Rule 26-1b). Under this option, the player must drop the ball behind the water hazard (see Decision 26-1/1.5). An additional option available only for a ball in a lateral water hazard is to drop the ball within two club-lengths of the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard or a point equidistant from the hole on the opposite margin of the hazard from where the ball last crossed into the hazard. However, it may not be dropped nearer the hole. If the player can drop the ball meeting the conditions of this last option, it may be dropped on the putting green side of the water hazard. Decision 26-1/15 illustrates the options under this Rule.


Below you can view videos related to this Rule.

Video
Water Hazards
Learn your options in a water hazard
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Video
Rolls into the lateral water hazard
At the 2002 WGC-EMC World Cup, Thomas Levet’s approach shot lands on the green but then rolls into the lateral water hazard. Under Rule 26-1, Levet incurs a one-stroke penalty and is permitted to drop a ball outside the hazard within two club-lengths of where the ball originally crossed the margin.
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Found this lateral water hazard
During the 2nd round of the 2003 U.S. Senior Open, Bruce Lietzke’s approach shot on the 5th hole found this lateral water hazard to the right. USGA Rules Officials on the scene conferred to determine the exact point where the ball last crossed the water hazard.
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Dry lateral water hazard off the fairway
Ernie Els’ tee shot during the final round of the 1994 US Open found this dry lateral water hazard off the fairway. Even though it was dry at the time, the red marking clearly indicated that this area was a lateral water hazard.
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Victim to the day’s gusty winds
Gil Morgan’s approach shot at the 1992 U.S. Open, fell victim to the day’s gusty winds… straying right of the fairway and over the cliff into the bay. Morgan consulted with a Rules Official and his fellow-competitor, Ian Woosnam, to determine where the ball last crossed the “margin of the hazard” during its flight.
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Environmentally-sensitive area
During the first round of the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open, Laura Davies’ tee shot landed in an environmentally-sensitive area between the tee and the fairway.
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Approach shot found this water hazard to the side of the green
During the 2002 Verizon Byron Nelson Classic, Shigeki Maruyama’s approach shot found this water hazard to the side of the green. He was penalized one stroke under Rule 26-1 and then sought the assistance of a Rules Official to determine the correct procedure for taking a drop:
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Tee shot found water
On the par 3 17th hole at the 1999 Players Championship, Fred Couples' tee shot found water. He incurred a one-stroke penalty under Rule 26-1.
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