Originally Posted by TourSpoon
I used to work at a course that marked environmental areas as OB. It was a very penalizing target style course and the OB didn't make much sense except that it kept people from playing out from them. They have since removed the OB designation and made them hazards with the red stakes. This is a friendlier way to handle these areas as they are really part of the course
. Even though many of these hazards don't have water, they are marked as lateral hazards which speeds up play when a golfer is certain that their ball is lost in the hazard especially if it consists of a palmetto thicket or a sawgrass stand.
It is very hard to understand why they have chosen that path to go. The Rule Book Appendix I, Part B says:
An environmentally-sensitive area (ESA) is an area so declared by an appropriate authority, entry into and/or play from which is prohibited for environmental reasons. These areas may be defined as ground under repair, a water hazard, a lateral water hazard or out of bounds at the discretion of the Committee, provided that in the case of an ESA that has been defined as a water hazard or a lateral water hazard, the area is, by Definition, a water hazard.
This means that declaring an area not fulfilling the definition of a water hazard (or lateral water hazard) to be one is clearly against the Rules, even though the intentions are good. Sadly enough that shows that the Committee of that particular club does not have sufficient knowledge of Rules. Why on earth did they not define that area as GUR? That would give a player a free drop even though his ball had been lost on that area (see R25-1).