Rules FAQ


Rule 26-1

Explanation of Rule 26-1b vs. "Line of Flight"

Q.  How do I determine where the ball must be dropped when proceeding under option b in Rule 26-1? Is it along the line of flight the ball took to get to the hazard?

A.  No. Under the Rules of Golf, dropping the ball on the "line of flight" is never an option, however, it is often confused with the concept provided in Rule 26-1b. Under Rule 26-1b, when taking relief from a water hazard, a player may drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped. In determining this line, the player must first determine where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard. Once this point is determined, the player should draw an imaginary line from this point to the hole. The player may then drop the ball anywhere along an extension of this line behind the water hazard (Decision 26-1/1.5). Please refer to Point D in Decision 26-1/15, for an illustration.


Below you can view videos related to this Rule.

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Water Hazards
Learn your options in a water hazard
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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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