Understanding Water Hazards And Lateral Water Hazards

It’s time to clear up the confusion surrounding water hazards and lateral water hazards.

Watch these two short golf rules vides explaining the options available to you. The first video explains the options you have when your ball comes to rest in a water hazard (yellow stakes and/or lines).

The second video below explains the additional two options that are available under Rule 26-1c when youur golf ball comes to rest within the margins of a lateral water hazard (red stakes and/or lines).

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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 GolfSwingSecretsRevealed.com, 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.

10 Responses to “Understanding Water Hazards And Lateral Water Hazards”

  1. Barry Rhodes says:


    I can assure you that everything I said in my video on water hazards is correct. The important point that you may be missing is that the reference point, whether the drop is being made from a hazard marked with yellow stakes or red stakes, is the LAST point that the ball crossed the margin of the hazard. For example, in the third situation I describe the ball crossed the water hazard in front of the putting green, passed over the putting green and then passed over the margin of the water hazard behind the green before coming to rest in the water. Therefore the reference point is the place where the ball crossed the margin of the water hazard behind the green. The player may then drop a ball anywhere on the line from the flagstick through this reference point, meaning that they will have to drop a ball on the opposite side of the second water hazard, but can go back as far as they like along the line.

    I recommend that you read the wording of Rule 26-1 and then view the video again.


  2. ian dodd says:


    On the first video when the ball went through the green and into the water hazard (yellow stakes) you state that the ball can be played from the point it entered the hazard (near side to green) I thought with a water hazard he would in fact have to play from a line behind the hazard which you indicate and not from the near side, also the same to be said when he hits the green and spins back into the water shouldnt he again have to play from the first point he crossed the water hazard as if he dropped the ball from the nearside he would in fact drop nearer the green, we have this situation at our club and those stakes are in fact red (near side to green) and we can drop.But the other instance through the green and into the yellow staked hazard we play another shot or play from the otherside of the hazard.

  3. Johan Coetzee says:

    Could you please explain the following rule regarding lateral water hazard.

    Our course , Gansbaai Golf Club, the whole course is a lateral water hazard with red stakes.

    1) When a player tee off and hit his ball into the hazard. he drop in line of entry two club lenghts and the same on the fairway when hit hit his ball in the hazard.

    Some players say that a player should play a provisional ball from the tee and the fairway because it is a ball lost.

    What is the corrret rule .

  4. Nick Sagmit says:

    We were on a par 3 hole with elevated green, and our playing buddy hit his shot into the slope just behind the green and rolled down to the water hazard, he wanted to drop his ball between the spot where he landed his shot and the water hazard, where he claimed shall be the point of entry, our contention was he should have dropped his ball, between the hole and the water hazard, what is the rule in this case?

  5. Barry Rhodes says:


    Yes, stakes defining water hazards (including lateral water hazards) may be removed providing that can be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. If it is intended that hazard stakes should not be removed (unusual) there will be a Local Rule that says they are immovable obstructions.



  6. Ginnie Thompson says:

    Please advise if while in a red staked hazard – can the stake be removed if it’s obstructing your swing? Thank you for your response.

  7. Barry Rhodes says:


    Yes, there is no difference in the Rules between a (lateral) water hazard that has water in it and one that is dry. So, if it is known or virtually certain that a ball is lost inside the margin of a water hazard then the relief options under Rule 26-1 still apply. However, note the requirement for it to be known or virtually certain that the ball is lost within the margin of the hazard. In my experience, dry water hazards often have rocks or large stones in them. When a ball hits a rock or a stone it can fly off in any direction, which makes it almost impossible to be certain that the ball has come to rest inside it, unless there is closely mown grass with no rough, trees, bushes, etc. on either side of the hazard. Where there is no certainty the ball must be treated as lost and the player must return to where they last played from, under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1).


  8. Tony Mintah says:

    Hi Barry,

    Hope you are well. Can you please explain what happens when a water hazard (lateral or otherwise) has no water in it and a player’s ball lands in it and the player cannot find his/her ball. Is it a lost ball or does rule 26-1 apply.

  9. […] did mention this in my short video but used the example that the player wanted to take this option after his first stroke (i.e. from […]

  10. Roger Garrett says:

    In NZ most of our games are played as four-ball-better-ball match-play, one pair v. the other, usually for a dollar or more. The other day one of the players hit a wild shot which struck the cart of his partner. The opposing pair claimed the hole, by dq. i believe only the player himself should be dq., not the side. Would you be kind enough to give me a ruling. I enjoy Barry’s comments and discussions on the R.O.G., and thank you very much for them.

    Barry’s Reply:

    Since 1st January 2008, when a player’s ball is accidentally deflected or stopped by himself, his partner or either of their caddies or equipment, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke (Rule 19-2).
    Therefore this was the appropriate penalty in your question where the player’s ball hit his partner’s cart, not loss of hole or disqualifiaction of that player for the hole.

    However, for any breach of Rule that would incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, Rule 30-3f is relevant; “If a player’s breach of a Rule assists his partner’s play or adversely affects an opponent’s play, the partner incurs the applicable penalty in addition to any penalty incurred by the player.
    In all other cases where a player incurs a penalty for breach of a Rule, the penalty does not apply to his partner. Where the penalty is stated to be loss of hole, the effect is to disqualify the player for that hole.”

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