Proposed Rule: Under the new Rules, “water hazards” would be superseded by the expanded concept of “penalty areas,” and new Rule 17 will provide the same basic options for relief that exist under the current Rules:
For reasons such as safety and pace of play, many Committees have sought to expand the use of lateral water hazards by marking areas that do not contain water and by marking water hazards as red where that is not specifically contemplated by the Rules.
The two types of penalty areas would be known by the color of their marking: red penalty areas (today called lateral water hazards) and yellow penalty areas (today called water hazards); and Committees would be given the discretion to mark all penalty areas as red so that lateral relief would always be allowed.
The term “hazard” would no longer be used in the Rules.
Reasons for Change:
Giving Committees the discretion to mark all penalty areas as red would make it simpler for players to learn the relief options (as the distinction between yellow and red water hazards is not always well understood) and would further help pace of play.
Individual Committees would remain free to choose what to mark as a penalty area (and so for example could decide only to mark traditional water hazards) and when to mark a penalty area as yellow (such as to preserve the challenge of playing a particular hole).