Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ask Linda #1844-Is mud casual water?

The local course I play had experienced a lot of rain and the bunkers had not yet been worked. Many bunkers had standing water (i.e., puddles) with significant areas of mud surrounding the puddles. The group I was playing with had decided to play the bunkers knowing a free drop within the bunker was permitted for casual water. My question involves the muddy areas and how much water is required to invoke the casual water rule. Specifically, in one fairway bunker my ball sunk into the mud to a depth in which the entire ball was below the surface of the mud leaving me an unplayable lie. The area was very muddy and I was getting a lot of mud on my shoes, but all I saw was mud, I did not see any standing water. So, the question is…does mud also qualify as standing water or do you actually have to see standing water in order to get a free drop?
Lou from Texas

Dear Lou, 

You would have to see standing water in order to get a free drop.

The Definition of “Casual Water” states that it is “any temporary accumulation of water on the course that…is visible before or after the player takes his stance.” Decision 25/1 clarifies that soft, mushy earth is not casual water unless the player can see water visible on the surface before or after taking his stance. Also, you should be aware that water that only appears around your shoe by pressing down hard with your foot is not casual water [Decision 25/4]. 

If there are specific bunkers that are completely flooded, the Committee has the option to adopt a Local Rule labeling those particular bunkers ground under repair, thereby allowing players free relief outside the bunker. Please read Decision 33-8/27 for the suggested wording for such a Local Rule.

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