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Water Hazard


The Concession - water hazards

The Concession Golf Club in Florida has plenty of water hazards.

Photo credit: © The Concession Golf Club; used with permission
Definition: On a golf course, a "water hazard" is a pond, lake, river, stream, sea, bay, ocean or any other open water on the course, including ditches and drainage ditches. "Water hazard" is an all-inclusive term, while "lateral water hazard" refers to specific type of water hazard (and for which there are slightly different options available to the golfer who hits into one).

Did you know that there doesn't have to be water in a water hazard? If a seasonal creek, for example, is defined as a water hazard by the committee, but your ball finds it when it's dry, the ball must be played under all the rules for water hazards.

The boundary of a water hazard extends vertically, so if your ball comes to rest on, say, a bridge crossing a water hazard, your ball in considered to be in the hazard. Water hazard boundaries should be defined by yellow stakes or lines (later water hazards by red stakes or lines). Those boundaries often extend out a few feet from the surface of the water itself. If your ball crosses the marked boundary but sits on dry land, it's still considered in the water hazard.

The stakes or lines defining the hazard are considered to be in the hazard.

Water hazards are covered in the official rules under Rule 26. Read that rule for the scoop on options when you hit into a water hazard; the most common result will be a stroke-plus-distance penalty: Take a 1-stroke penalty and return to the spot of the previous stroke to hit again. As noted above, the procedure is different for lateral water hazards, so be sure to read the rule.

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"You can't see it from the tee, but there's a water hazard left of the fairway at about 230 yards off the tee."

"My ball went into the water hazard, so I'll have to take the stroke-plus-distance penalty."

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