Rules Guy: How do you define a hazard boundary when it isn’t clearly marked?

August 20, 2019

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

My golf buddy, “Three Down” and I can’t agree on the following: If a water hazard isn’t clearly staked or marked, what exactly is its boundary? If there are two stakes, is the boundary defined by the line between the stakes, or by the contour of the hazard, even though the contour may extend across the line between the stakes? —ROBERT “TWO DOWN” CHAPMAN, VIA E-MAIL

Not to be a downer, Two Down, but if a penalty area isn’t properly marked, you use its natural margins. You thus can’t claim, for example, that your ball is in temporary water because it is outside of an imaginary line between two adjacent stakes — you’re still in the penalty area, down and quite possibly out. Two Down could be Three Down, and Three Down Four Down, and so on down …

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