Rule 17 - Penalty Areas

Purpose of Rule: Rule 17 is a specific Rule for penalty areas, which are bodies of water or other areas defined by the Committee where a ball is often lost or unable to be played. For one penalty stroke, players may use specific relief options to play a ball from outside the penalty area.

17.1  Options for Ball in Penalty Area

Penalty areasPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. are defined as either red or yellow. This affects the player’s relief options (see Rule 17.1d).

A player may stand in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. to play a ball outside the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., including after taking relief from the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there..

a. When Ball Is in Penalty Area

A ball is in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. when any part of the ball:

If part of the ball is both in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. and in another area of the courseAreas of the Course: The five defined areas that make up the course:, see Rule 2.2c.

b. Player May Play Ball as It Lies in Penalty Area or Take Penalty Relief

The player may either:

Exception – Relief Must Be Taken from Interference by No Play Zone in Penalty Area (see Rule 17.1e).

c. Relief for Ball Not Found but in Penalty Area

If a player’s ball has not been found and it is known or virtually certainKnown or Virtually Certain: The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move. that the ball came to rest in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there.:

But if it is not known or virtually certainKnown or Virtually Certain: The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move. that the ball came to rest in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. and the ball is lostLost: The status of a ball that is not found in three minutes after the player or his or her caddie (or the player’s partner or partner’scaddie) begins to search for it., the player must take stroke-and-distanceStroke and Distance: The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6). relief under Rule 18.2.

d. Relief for Ball in Penalty Area

If a player’s ball is in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., including when it is known or virtually certainKnown or Virtually Certain: The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move. to be in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. even though not found, the player has these relief options, each for one penalty stroke:

(1) Stroke-and-Distance Relief. The player may play the original ball or another ball from where the previous strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. was made (see Rule 14.6).

(2) Back-On-the-Line Relief. The player may dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. the original ball or another ball (see Rule 14.3) in a relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors: that is based on a reference line going straight back from the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played: through the estimated point where the original ball last crossed the edge of the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there.: [Clarifications Available →]

(3) Lateral Relief (Only for Red Penalty Area). When the ball last crossed the edge of a red penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., the player may dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. the original ball or another ball in this lateral relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors: (see Rule 14.3):

See Committee Procedures, Section 8; Model Local Rule B-2  (the CommitteeCommittee: The person or group in charge of the competition or the course. may adopt a Local Rule allowing lateral relief on the opposite side of a red penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. at an equal distance from the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:).

e. Relief Must Be Taken from Interference by No Play Zone in Penalty Area

In each of these situations, the player must not play the ball as it lies:

(1) When Ball Is in No Play Zone in Penalty Area. The player must take penalty relief under Rule 17.1d or 17.2.

(2) When No Play Zone on Course Interferes with Stance or Swing for Ball in Penalty Area. If a player’s ball is in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., and is outside a no play zoneNo Play Zone: A part of the course where the Committee has prohibited play. A no play zone must be defined as part of either an abnormal course condition or a penalty area. but a no play zoneNo Play Zone: A part of the course where the Committee has prohibited play. A no play zone must be defined as part of either an abnormal course condition or a penalty area. (whether in an abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions: or in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there.) interferes with his or her area of intended stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke. or area of intended swing, the player must either:

But there is no free relief from interference by the no play zoneNo Play Zone: A part of the course where the Committee has prohibited play. A no play zone must be defined as part of either an abnormal course condition or a penalty area. under (2):

For what to do when there is interference by a no play zoneNo Play Zone: A part of the course where the Committee has prohibited play. A no play zone must be defined as part of either an abnormal course condition or a penalty area. for a ball anywhere except in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., see Rule 16.1f.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where the player is required or allowed to play his or her ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 17.1: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. Under Rule 14.7a.

17.2  Options After Playing Ball from Penalty Area

a. When Ball Played from Penalty Area Comes to Rest in Same or Another Penalty Area

If a ball played from a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. comes to rest in the same penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. or another penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., the player may play the ball as it lies (see Rule 17.1b).

Or, for one penalty stroke, the player may take relief under any of these options:

(1) Normal Relief Options. The player may take stroke-and-distanceStroke and Distance: The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6). relief under Rule 17.1d(1), back-on-the-line relief under Rule 17.1d(2) or, for a red penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., lateral relief under Rule 17.1d(3).

Under Rule 17.1d(2) or (3), the estimated point used to determine the relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors: is where the original ball last crossed the edge of the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. where the ball now lies.

If the player takes stroke-and-distanceStroke and Distance: The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6). relief by droppingDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. a ball in the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. (see Rule 14.6) and then decides not to play the droppedDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. ball from where it comes to rest:

(2) Extra Relief Option: Playing from Where Last Stroke Made Outside a Penalty Area. Instead of using one of the normal relief options under (1), the player may choose to play the original ball or another ball from where he or she made the last strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. from outside a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. (see Rule 14.6).

b. When Ball Played from Penalty Area Is Lost, Out of Bounds or Unplayable Outside Penalty Area

After playing a ball from a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., a player may sometimes be required or choose to take stroke-and-distanceStroke and Distance: The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6). relief because the original ball is either:

If the player takes stroke-and-distanceStroke and Distance: The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6). relief by droppingDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. a ball in the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. (see Rule 14.6) and then decides not to play the droppedDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. ball from where it comes to rest:

The player may directly take such relief outside the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. without first droppingDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. a ball in the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., but still gets a total of two penalty strokes.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where the player is required or allowed to play his or her ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 17.2: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. Under Rule 14.7a.

17.3  No Relief Under Other Rules for Ball in Penalty Area

When a player’s ball is in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., there is no relief for:

The player’s only relief option is to take penalty relief under Rule 17.

But when a dangerous animalAnimal: Any living member of the animal kingdom (other than humans), including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates (such as worms, insects, spiders and crustaceans). condition interferes with the play of a ball in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there., the player may take either free relief in the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. or penalty relief outside the penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. (see Rule 16.2b(2)).