Double-trouble: hitting to bunker, water hazard
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The Advertiser, with help from Ko Olina director of golf Greg Nichols, is offering this question-and-answer feature on the rules of golf. If you have a question regarding the rules of golf e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Nichols recommends readers go to Play GolfAmerica.com for information on golf programs in their area. For additional rules information, ask your local Aloha Section PGA professional or go online to www.USGA.org.
Q. I lie in a bunker and water is directly in front of me for my next shot. I hit my shot into the water. Do I have to drop my ball back into the bunker or can I take a line from the spot of entry, in line with the hole as far back out of the bunker? Thanks for your help. — Eric Terada
A: The Rules of Golf, Rule 26 on water hazards (including lateral water hazards), state that there are two options when taking relief from a water hazard, which is marked by yellow stakes. The first option is to play the ball from where your original ball was last played. If you chose that option, this would mean dropping your ball in the bunker.
The second option, allows you to drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the 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.
So, the answer to your question is yes, you may take relief under the second option, under penalty of one shot and not drop along the line where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard.
If the water hazard is defined by red stakes as a lateral water hazard, then the rules allow additional options of dropping within two club-lengths of the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard or on a point on the opposite margin of the hazard equidistant from the hole.
In my next column, I'll explain what would happen if, instead of your ball landing in the water hazard, your ball had flown over the same water hazard and landed on the side of a bank near the green and then rolled back into the water hazard. How and where would you drop your ball in that situation? Many experienced tournament players misplay their ball all the time in this same situation.