Hazard Options & Rules

RED HAZARD STAKES & LINES

A red stake or line defines a lateral water hazard. The entire stake or line is considered to be in the hazard and, therefore, a ball touching any portion of the line is considered to be in the hazard. If red stakes are the only indicator of the hazard, the hazard “line” is defined as a the straight line between the two stakes on both sides of the ball. There are four options (*) to consider when your ball is in a red-staked hazard.

  1. Play the ball as it lies making certain your club doesn’t touch the water or ground within the hazard. No penalty.
  2. Drop a ball within two club lengths from the point where the ball crossed the hazard line – making certain the ball comes to rest no nearer to the hole. A one stroke penalty.
  3. Drop a ball anywhere on a line created by the point that the ball crossed the hazard line and the hole – making certain the ball comes to rest no nearer to the hole. There is no limit to how far back the drop made be made. A one stroke penalty.
  4. Play from the spot from which you hit the shot that went into the hazard. A one stroke penalty.

Notes:

  • Some lateral water hazards may be designated as an environmentally protected area and, if so, option #1 above is not available.
  • When choosing option #1, you may not move any loose impediments (rocks, twigs, leaves, etc.)
  • In option #2 the ball may be placed when, after dropping it twice, the ball will not come to rest no nearer the hole (i.e. because of a steep slope).

(*) A 5th option is available if a “Ball Drop” is provided by local rules.

YELLOW HAZARD STAKES & LINES

A yellow stake or line defines a water hazard. The entire stake or line is considered to be in the hazard and, therefore, a ball touching any portion of the line is considered to be in the hazard. If yellow stakes are the only indicator of the hazard, the hazard “line” is defined as a straight line between the nearest two stakes on both sides of the ball. There are three options to consider when your ball is in a yellow-staked hazard.

  1. Play the ball as it lies making certain your club doesn’t touch the water or ground within the hazard. No penalty.
  2. Drop a ball anywhere on a line created by the point that the ball crossed the hazard line and the hole – making certain the ball comes to rest no nearer to the hole. There is no limit to how far back the drop made be made. A one stroke penalty.
  3. Play from the spot from which you hit the shot that went into the hazard. A one stroke penalty.

Notes:

  • Some water hazards may be designated as an environmentally protected area and, if so, option #1 above is not available.
  • When choosing option #1, you may not move any loose impediments (rocks, twigs, leaves, etc.)
  • In option #2 the ball may be placed when, after dropping it twice, the ball will not come to rest no nearer the hole (i.e. because of a steep slope).
WHITE OUT-OF-BOUNDS STAKES & LINES

A white stake or line defines out-of-bounds. The entire stake or line is considered to be out-of-bounds and, different from a hazard stake or line, a ball is considered to be out-of-bounds only when the entire ball is outside of the line. If white stakes are the only indicator of the out-of-bounds, the out-of-bounds “line” is defined as a the straight line between the two stakes on both sides of the ball. There is only one option to consider when your ball is out-of-bounds.

  1. Play from the spot from which you hit the ball out-of-bounds. A one stroke penalty.

Notes:

  • If the original shot was hit from a teeing area, the ball may be re-tee’d. If the ball was played from other than a teeing area, the ball must be dropped.
  • If the original shot is possibly out-of-bounds, the player is encouraged to hit another shot and, before doing so, tell the other players that the ball is “provisional.”
  • A fence, wall, or some other type of man-made structure may also be designated as an out-of-bounds indicator. In this case, it should be marked as such or noted as a local rule on the scorecard.
BLUE STAKES & LINES

A blue stake or line defines a planted or protected area. If the planted or protected area has only one blue stake as an indicator, the entire area is considered to be planted or protected. If multiple blue stakes or lines are used to define the area, a ball is considered in the area if any portion of it touches the line(s). There is only one option to consider when your ball is in a blue-staked area.

  1. You must take relief from the blue-staked area by first establishing the nearest point to the ball outside of the area and then dropping a ball within one club length that is no nearer to the hole. No penalty.
OTHER OPTIONS & RULES
  1. If a ball is thought to be lost, it must be replayed from where it was previously hit. A one stroke penalty. If a player is in doubt as to whether their ball is lost, they are encouraged to announce to their competitors that they are hitting a “provisional” ball.
  2. If a ball cannot be found and there isn’t absolute certainty that it is in a hazard, it must be played as a lost ball.
  3. If a ball comes to rest on a cart path or is so close to a cart path such that the cart path will interfere with their swing, the player is entitled to one club relief taken from the nearest point to where the ball is on the cart path. The ball must be dropped and be no nearer to the hole.
  4. One club length relief can also be taken from drains and other fixed impediments.
  5. A golf course may provide a “drop area” for balls hit into a water hazard or a lateral water hazard. If provided, a player may consider it as an additional option to those previously described.
  6. Stakes associated with water hazards and lateral water hazards may be temporarily removed if they interfere with an intended swing. Out-of-bounds stakes, walls and fences may not be temporarily removed even if they interfere with an intended swing.
  7. Some areas marked with white lines can also be “Ground Under Repair.” If so, the area should be stated as such or marked with thee initials “GUR.”
  8. You are encouraged to download the “Rules of Golf” from the USGA website or as an app on your smartphone.
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