Friday, August 10, 2018

Ask Linda #1778-Unmarked hazards

Hi Linda,
We have a regular problem on our course. Vandals often remove hazard markers. This is a very regular occurrence.

I believe that the hazards, as defined by the rules of golf, are still hazards. However I cannot find a rule that covers this.

Some golfers are claiming that if there are no hazard markers they are not hazards.

Can you help?

Many thanks,
Lulu from Essex, England

Dear Lulu,

Rule 33-2 requires the Committee to accurately mark all hazards. However, if it fails to do so, or hazard stakes are removed, the player is not absolved of the responsibility to recognize that her ball lies in a hazard.

Decision 26/2 talks about a poorly marked hazard, and explains that even though the player’s ball lies outside the stakes, if it is clear that the ball lies in the hazard the player must proceed accordingly.

Decision 26/3 explains that an unmarked ditch is by definition a water hazard.

A water hazard is defined as any sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch, etc. As it is the player’s responsibility to know the Rules, which include the Definitions, she must recognize when her ball lies in a water hazard, regardless of the presence of lines or stakes, and regardless of whether those stakes have been properly located or removed by vandals. For guidance on where to drop when stakes are absent, Decision 33-2a/4 explains that the natural limits of the hazard begin “where the ground breaks down to form the depression containing the water.”

Take a look at the following FAQ from the USGA website:
Rule 33-2
Water Hazard not Marked
Q. In playing the 7th hole, Tom`s tee shot comes to rest in a creek running parallel to the hole. The creek is not marked. He cannot proceed under option b in Rule 26-1, as it is not feasible to drop the ball behind the creek. Must Tom replay his tee shot?
A. No. The Committee has erred in properly marking the course. As the creek meets the Definition of a "Lateral Water Hazard," he may proceed under Rule 26-1c.
As you can see by this answer, the USGA assumes the player understands that her ball lies in a hazard, even though it is unmarked.

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