Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ask Linda #175-No free relief from hazard

Dear Linda,

Keep up the good work with your blog!

In a major local golf tournament, a competitor’s ball landed in a water hazard and the ball ended up on a watering hose that had been left coiled up inside the hazard. They allowed him to drop out of the hazard with no penalty. Isn’t this considered an abnormal condition which does not give you free relief? Shouldn’t he have to play it as it lies OR take relief from the HAZARD?

Thank you,

Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

A coiled hose is an obstruction. Assuming it could be moved without too much effort, and that moving it would not take too much time, it would be considered a movable obstruction.

When a player’s ball lies on a movable obstruction, the correct procedure is to lift the ball, move the obstruction, and drop the ball as near as possible to the spot directly under where it lay on the obstruction, not nearer the hole [Rule 24-1b].

The competitor’s ball was lying on a movable obstruction (the hose) in a hazard. He was entitled to a free drop in the hazard. There is no provision in the rule book for taking a ball out of a water hazard without incurring a one-stroke penalty. You are correct in your understanding that this player should not have been granted a free drop outside the hazard, Lou.


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ask Linda #174-Hazards behind greens

Dear Linda,

On the fifth hole at my golf course there is water starting next to the green on the right, continuing around the back of the green. All of this water is designated as a lateral hazard.

I have two questions:

1. Is the water behind the green properly designated a lateral hazard, or should it be marked as a water hazard (yellow stakes)?

2. How is the ball to be played when it lands on the green and then travels into the water behind the green?


Dear Lulu,

Course marking is sometimes more of an art than a science. Deciding whether to mark a hazard as a lateral (red stakes) or as a water hazard (yellow stakes) may depend on the answer to such questions as:

1. How difficult or easy does the management want to make the hole?

2. Is it safe for players to drop behind the water hazard, or will they be in the line of fire of golfers playing another hole?

3. How time-consuming will it be to cross the hazard and drop on the side that is away from the green?

It is not unusual for a hazard behind a green to be marked as lateral, and it is an acceptable designation. A ball that hits the green and rolls into the water is in the hazard. Your relief choices for a ball in such a lateral hazard are as follows:

1. Play it as it lies in the hazard with no penalty.

2. Under penalty of one stroke:

a. Play the ball from where you hit your previous stroke.

b. Drop a ball behind the hazard (on the side further from the green) on the extension of a line that starts at the hole and passes straight through your ball and extends back to infinity.

c. Drop a ball within two club-lengths and not nearer the hole than the point where your original ball crossed the margin of the hazard. (Rule 26-1 also offers the option to drop on the opposite side of the water that is the same distance from the hole as the area you established in option “c.” However, it is unlikely such a point exists for a hazard designated as “lateral” that is behind a green.)

Players should always be given at least two relief options for a ball in a water hazard. In the case of a lateral hazard behind a green, if there is no place to drop a ball within two club-lengths of where a ball crosses the margin of the hazard that is not closer to the green, and there is no place to drop on the far side of the hazard (the area may be wooded or out-of-bounds, or the water may be too wide to cross), then one or several drop areas should be provided as a relief option for players who hit into the hazard. It is not the intent of the rules to give a player no choice other than to return to the spot where he hit his previous shot and hit another ball.


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.