you unsure what each colored stake on the golf course means?
Are you hesitant on how to proceed under the rules for each?
If you are faced with your
ball in an area defined by red stakes or red lines, officially
called a lateral water hazard (USGA rule#26), think of a red
stop sign to help you get out trouble.
When you are driving a car
and you come upon a stop sign at a four-way intersection, what
are you choices? You can go left, right, forward, backwards,
or stay where you are. Guess what? Those are the same options
you have on the golf course, with some additional explanation
*Left One option is to drop a replacement ball
within two club lengths of where the ball last crossed into the
margin of the water hazard. Thats not the same as saying
where the ball splashed down or landed. Find where the ball last
flew over the part of the course that was playable before entering
the LWH, draw a line straight down and use that spot as your
point of reference. Assuming the water is on your right, you
would drop on the left side of it. Remember to not drop nearer
the hole than this point and that the ball must not roll closer
to the hole. Re-drop if the later happens.
*Right This is probably the least known option.
Similar to left, you can drop your ball, even with
the point where your ball last crossed the margin of the water
hazard, on the opposite side of the water hazard.
Remember to stay equidistant with the hole regardless of where
*Backward Put it in reverse and go back to where
you last hit your ball. Usually, this will be on the tee box.
This is more commonly known as stroke and distance.
*Forward You can drop your ball behind the water
hazard, keeping the point at which the ball last crossed the
margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the
spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit as to how far
behind the water hazard you can go. Youre actually dropping
backwards but you have to look forward at the flagstick to get
Each of the above options
comes with a one stroke penalty, added on to your original stroke
that landed you in the hazard.
*Stay Just like the person that sits at a stop
sign way too long, you can stay and play your ball as it lies.
Just because you are in a water hazard, or even in water, doesnt
mean your ball is unplayable. Sometime you sneak out of trouble,
like when the police pull over the car behind you.
remember the rules of the road when you next meet trouble with
red stakes on the golf course and youll drive away without
Looking for more great explanations
on the rules? Check out TheGolfRules.com. Water hazards are defined
in the USGAs Rules of Golf book under rule 26.
Richard Todd is the author of
The Golf Rules, an entertaining and educational series of books
on stroke play, match play, and golf etiquette. He has been trained
on the rules of golf by the USGA and the PGA, has been heard
on the PGA Tour radio station and seen in print and electronic
media sources. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and
YouTube at www.TheGolfRules.com.