Golf Rules – Yellow Water Hazards

RulesWe all know the perils of the tee shots off 2,3 and 13 and are well aware of the ditch in front of 3 but are we sure what relief we get from these hazards?

Water, what hazard?

First off not all water on the course is classified the same and so options as to the relief we can take differ.

Water Hazard – Yellow Stakes

A Water Hazard is defined by Yellow Stakes, these hazards are more often than not found around ponds, lakes or ditches that run across holes.


You have three options available to you if you ball ends up in a Yellow Water Hazard.

A – Your first option.  As always you may play the ball as it lies, however you may never “ground your club”.  “Grounding of the club” means that you may not allow your club head to touch the ground before striking the ball, so when addressing the ball your club head should hover and never touch the ground.  It is also a penalty when taking practice swings to ground your club, so the best bet is to take your practice swings outside of the hazard before addressing the ball.  If you do ground your club you will incur a 2 shot penalty in medal or loss of hole in match play.

It is important to also be aware that a player cannot

  • Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard
  • Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club
  • Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard, this includes twigs and leaves.

Again any infringements will incur a 2 shot penalty in medal or loss of hole in match play.

B – You can go back and play a ball from where your last shot was played under penalty of one shot.

C – You can take a drop any distance behind the water hazard keeping a straight line between the hole, the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard and the spot on which the ball is dropped.  This is under penalty of one shot.

So using the 2nd as an example Figure 1 (Below) shows the correct line for players who wish to take a penalty drop after ending up in the pond to the left of the tee.  A ball enters the hazard along the Orange line.  Players take their drop by imagining a line between the point the ball crossed the hazard and the pin, shown as a dark Blue solid line in the example.  Players can then drop their ball as far back as they wish along the dark Blue dotted line depicted in the example.  Basically a player entering a Yellow hazard taking a drop would have to play over the hazard again if they have taken the correct drop.

Figure 1 – Yellow Water Hazard Drop

2nd Water Drop


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