Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ask Linda #687-Is the hazard defined by stakes or water?

Dear Linda:
Here in the UK we've had a horrendous 12 months for heavy rain, with many courses suffering badly. On our course, one of the water hazards is prone to overflowing whenever we get significant rain.
My question, therefore, is: Which takes precedence in determining the extent of a hazard, the red stakes or the natural edge of the actual water? In other words, my ball could be in quite deep water, but outside the red stakes. Do I take free relief (for casual water) or penalty relief (for a water hazard)?
Many thanks, Linda, for the excellent service you provide to golfers everywhere.
Lou from England

Dear Lou,

The stakes define the margin of the hazard. When water overflows a hazard, the water outside the stakes is casual water. The depth of the water is irrelevant.

If there is universal agreement that your ball did not pass the red stakes and land in the lateral hazard, your ball is lost in casual water. You are entitled to free relief under Rule 25-1b: Drop a ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief that is no closer to the hole, not in the hazard or on the putting green. Since your ball is lost, your reference point for finding relief is where the ball last crossed the margin of the casual water.

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