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Yellow-Staked Water Hazard – No Two Club-Length Relief

Posted: 4/11/2011

Have you ever struck your ball into a water hazard? Of course you have. We all have. However, did you know that not all water hazards are treated the same?

 There are two types – water hazards and lateral water hazards. By definition, a water hazard (e.g., yellow stakes and/or lines) is any sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open water course (whether or not containing water) and anything of a similar nature on the course. All ground and water within the margin of a water hazard are part of the water hazard. A lateral water hazard (e.g., red stakes and/or lines) is a water hazard or that part of the water hazard so situated that it is not possible, or is deemed by the Committee to be impractical, to drop a ball behind the water hazard in accordance with Rule 26-1b. 

If a player's ball comes to rest in a water hazard (yellow stakes and/or lines), the player has three options. The player may:  

 

1. play the ball as it lies without penalty ( Rule 13-1); or under penalty of one stroke; 

 

2. play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or 

 

3. 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, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped.  

 

Refer to Decision 26-1/1.5 for an illustration of the meaning of “behind.” 

A question we get at Golf House on a regular basis is, “If my ball crossed over a water hazard (yellow stakes and/or lines) onto land and then rolls back in the hazard, where can I drop?  Can I drop on the green side of the water hazard?”  

First, a player may drop his ball in accordance with (2) and (3) above. Second, the green side of the water hazard is not behind the water hazard. If a ball last crossed the margin of a water hazard as described in the situation above, it appears that the ball crossed the margin of the hazard three times (e.g., first, the initial time it crossed; second, when it crossed over the hazard onto land; and third, when the ball rolled back into the hazard). So when the Rule states that the ball must be dropped “keeping the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is to be dropped,” it is referring to the third (final) time. It is the reference point for the 26-1b option only. 

 

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