How To Take Relief From Casual Water (Rule 25-1b)

Last week I was asked the following question on how to correctly take relief from casual water. I’m sure one minute spent reading my answer will avoid any confusion next time you encounter this particular situation on the golf course:


“This last weekend I spent a fabulous time playing golf, during Saturday and Sunday morning the course became rather water logged, one of the lads in a group following our three ball inadvertently found his ball in rather a deep puddle just before the 6th green and attempted to place his ball to the left of the puddle but not closer to the hole, however one of the players stated that the ball must be placed behind the puddle in line with were it went in. Is that the correct ruling. Thanks for everything”


“In fact, neither player was correct! In taking relief from casual water, an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1b), the ball has to be dropped, not placed. As the ball was lying through the green (i.e. not in a hazard or on the green) “the player must lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When the ball is dropped within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the condition and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.

The player that suggested that the ball must be placed behind the puddle in line with were it went in was way off, and not just because he said it should be placed. I suspect that he was confusing casual water with a water hazard. But when taking relief from a water hazard (Rule 26-1) there is no option which refers to the line the ball took as it entered the hazard. There is an option, under penalty of one stroke, where the player may 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.

The other point that is relevant here is the definition of casual water, which is any temporary accumulation of water on the course that is not in a water hazard and is visible before or after the player takes his stance. In other words, the area of casual water may extend a lot further than the apparent puddle that is ‘on top’ of the ground.

Remember, the nearest point of relief may be in a more unfavourable position than where the ball lies in the water. For this reason, always work out where the nearest point of relief is, Including the one club length area in which you are entitled to drop the ball (not nearer the hole) before picking up your ball.

I hope that this clarifies the situation for you. You have to read the Rules very carefully as each word can be vital to the interpretation of the circumstances.”

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Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this information on the Rules of Golf I am human and have been known to be wrong! Neither I, nor anyone connected with, shall be held responsible for any losses caused by reliance upon the accuracy or reliability of such information. Readers should refer to the full text of the rules and decisions as published in the official publications of the R&A and the USGA, The Rules of Golf 2008-2011 and Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2008-2009.

3 Responses to “How To Take Relief From Casual Water (Rule 25-1b)”

  1. Barry Rhodes says:


    Willie is absolutely correct. The other two instances of when a ball may not be cleaned are when it is lifted under the Rules in order to see whether it is unfit for play (Rule 5-3); and when it is lifted in order to identify it, except that it may be cleaned only to the extent necessary for identification (Rule 12-2).


  2. Willie Punt says:

    Yes he could clean his ball. A general truism of the Rules is that, when the ball is to be put back into play in a different place from that where it was lifted, cleaning of the ball is permitted. An example of when it may NOT be cleaned is when the ball is lifted because it interferes with another player’s play. In that situation, the ball will be put back into play in the same spot.

  3. Eric Oliver says:

    could the player when lifting from the casual water CLEAN his ball ?

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