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Should this golfer get relief for a ball that lands in a water hazard?
Graham Lewis

Q:  Janet and Ruth are playing the third hole at Sapelo Hammock. Janet hits her second shot toward the water hazard near the green. She finds her ball resting in water and prepares to take a drop under the two club-length relief rule. She announces that she will take a one-stroke penalty since her ball was in the water hazard. Ruth says she does not have to take a penalty stroke since her ball was in water that was outside the normal boundary of the hazard. Is Ruth correct?
A:  Due to heavy rain the previous day, the water in the hazard had run over the hazard boundary a few feet and would be considered casual water. Under relief from casual water, the player is entitled to relief without penalty. Ruth is correct, but Janet must only take a one club-length relief as permitted by relief from casual water.
Tip of the day: The issue of casual water adjacent to a water hazard is easy to address when the hazard is clearly marked. However, when such markings by a line and or stakes are not clearly evident, it requires judgment. My suggestion is for players in the group to determine what they believe the normal boundaries of the hazard are and to proceed accordingly. Regardless, they should address this issue with the tournament committee or professional before signing the scorecard. Note: If this situation occurs, you should take relief under the casual water rule, which is one club length. This would be permissible under the relief from a water-hazard rule.  
As always, have fun playing and practicing the game of golf. The continuous learning sessions are now only from 4-6 p.m. Wednesdays. Email me at with questions.

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