Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ask Linda #948-Hazard or lateral hazard relief?

Hi Linda,

We have a green that is almost an island. The approach area in front is marked with yellow stakes - a water hazard. At each side, the last yellow stake has a red stake on the outside, and close together, indicating the end of the water hazard and the start of the a lateral water hazard. With the circular frontage as it is, and stake positioning, there is almost no way someone can hit the lateral hazard area without first going through the yellow hazard stakes. 

So if the ball goes through the yellow stakes, hits the green and then rolls into the water at the lateral stake area (happens all the time!), can she take lateral hazard relief? If she cannot take lateral relief, what is the point of the red stakes? In particular, shouldn't that relief be taken where the ball first crossed the line of the hazard, no matter where it ends up? Our members are constantly taking lateral hazard relief - should they? Should the yellow stakes be closer together to give the players a break?


Dear Lulu,

You may be surprised to learn that the answer is quite simple. When you choose the relief option to drop behind a water hazard [Rule 26-1b], or the two-club-length option for a lateral hazard [Rule 26-1c], your point of reference for taking relief is the point where the ball LAST crossed the margin of the hazard. Thus, if your ball crosses the yellow stakes, hits the green, and rolls off the green into the hazard where it is marked with red stakes, your ball LAST crossed the margin of the hazard where it was marked as a lateral hazard. The ball is deemed to be in a lateral hazard, and you may choose any of the three options available in Rule 26-1 for relief.

The members of your course who have been taking lateral hazard relief for balls that last crossed the hazard margin where it is marked by red stakes have been playing correctly.

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