Golf Ball In Water Hazard Penalty

Golf Ball in Water Hazard Penalty

Golf is a challenging game for new players and experienced veterans alike. One of the many challenges on any given course can be water hazards. Avoiding these is essential, as failure to do so can cost precious strokes. Some courses don’t have any water hazards, but many of the more advanced courses have a variety of water hazards.


Definition

The water hazard penalty comes into play in two different situations: when a ball enters a yellow line water hazard and when it enters a red line water hazard. 

Yellow line water hazards lie in the middle of a hole requiring the player to hit their ball directly over it. If a ball lands in a yellow line water hazard, a one-stroke penalty is assessed, and then the player has a few options for moving forward. If the ball is unplayable from a yellow line water hazard, the player can either drop the ball from the location of the previous shot, or they can play the ball in line with the spot it crossed the margin of the water hazard.

Red-line water hazards lie on either the left or right side of the hole, and when a ball enters a red-line water hazard, the player has the opportunity to play the ball or take the one-stroke penalty if the ball is unplayable. Players whose ball crossed into a red line water hazard have all of the options a yellow line water hazard offers, plus two additional choices to find the best way out of the hazard. These additional options are to drop the ball within two club lengths of where it crossed the margin of the hazard or on the opposite side of the hazard at an equal distance from the hole. 

A shot can go awry and find its way into a hazard while playing any hole with a body of water, but players do have a variety of options to work their way out. 

Result

The major difference for water hazard penalties is between red and yellow line water hazards. In the case of red line water hazards, the player has the option to play the ball out of the hazard without taking a one-stroke penalty. However, oftentimes the ball is unplayable in these situations, making that point moot. When a ball enters a yellow line water hazard, an automatic one-stroke penalty is applied to that player’s score for the hole, and they may proceed with any of the available options to continue play.

Examples

  • A player drives the ball off the tee further than expected and lands in a yellow line water hazard lying deep in the fairway. This player will take a one-stroke penalty and can reshoot off the tee or take a shot from where the ball crossed the hazard margin. 
  • A player takes a shot off the fairway and hooks it right into a red line water hazard on the hole’s outer edge. This player can try to play the ball out of the hazard and avoid the one-stroke penalty or take the penalty and move the ball to a better position. 

Similar Penalties to Ball in Water Hazard

  • Out of Bounds
  • Unplayable Ball
  • Grounding Club in Bunker

FAQ

What is a water hazard in golf?

A water hazard is a body of water that lies in the middle of or on either side of a hole. Hazards can come in many shapes in sizes depending on the course ranging from a small pond or creek, to a lake or even the ocean. If the water hazard lies in the middle of a hole requiring the player to hit the ball directly over, it is a yellow line water hazard. If the water hazard lies on either or both sides, it is a red line water hazard. 

What are the consequences of hitting the ball into a water hazard in golf?

For balls hit into a yellow line water hazard, an automatic one-stroke penalty is applied to the player’s score for the hole. If the ball is hit into a red line water hazard, the player has the opportunity to avoid the one-stroke penalty if they can play the ball directly out of the hazard. Attempting to play a ball out of the hazard without penalty can come with consequences as well, as those shots are often difficult.

Can you ground your club in a water hazard?

As of 2020, you can ground your club in or out of the water if you hit a ball into a hazard. Previously, the club was not allowed to touch the ground or the water prior to your stroke, but that has now changed. However, taking a shot in which the ball is entirely under the water is rather tricky and overall not advisable; taking the one-stroke penalty may be the better option.