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The rules on water hazards
Graham Lewis - photo by Photo provided.

Golf is fun, whether playing solo or with others. Having a basic understanding of the game’s rules makes it easier to enjoy the experience and improve your skills. In this periodic column, I provide brief explanations of golf rules and answer commonly asked questions.
Question: Phil and Robert were playing in their monthly seniors group outing. On the 16th hole Phil hit his ball into the water hazard in front of the green.
Phil informed Robert that he was going to drop a ball within two club-lengths of the point where his ball last crossed the margin of the hazard. Robert said that he was not allowed to drop within two club-lengths since his ball entered a water hazard that was so identified by yellow stakes. Is Robert correct?
Answer: Yes, Robert is correct. Phil had two relief options from a water hazard (yellow stakes). He could play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was played. Or he could drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original 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 to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped.
What If: If Phil had hit his ball into a lateral water hazard (marked by red stakes) then he would have been entitled to drop his ball within two club-lengths (no nearer the hole) from the point where it last crossed the margin of the hazard. He could also drop his ball on the opposite side of the lateral water hazard equidistant from the hole.
Tip: All water hazards must be marked by yellow stakes and or a yellow line. All lateral water hazards must be marked by red stakes and or a red line.
As always, have fun playing and practicing golf. Email me at if you have any questions or suggestions.

Lewis is a golf pro at Sapelo Hammock Golf Course in McIntosh County.

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