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Question on water hazard/lost ball

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Got into a discussion on the course today, not sure who is right.

 

Par 4, trees and and a lake down the left.  However, there is some thick undergrowth before the water.  It is not staked.  A guy in our foursome asked me what the rule would be there, because I work for the USGA.  At least this guy thinks I do.

 

My thoughts were that if the ball goes into the underbrush and cannot be found, it is a lost ball.  He said, "But there's a lake there."

 

I think that you can only play it as a water hazard if you are "reasonably" certain that the ball was in the water or you saw it actually hit the water.  What's the rule here?

post #2 of 21

The actual term used in the rules is "Known or Virtually Certain" instead of "reasonably".  Your assumption is correct.  Unless it's Known or Virtually Certain the ball is in the hazard, you can not proceed under the hazard rule.  Without KVC you must find the ball, otherwise it's lost.

 

 

See this explanation of "KVC".

 

http://www.usga.org/Rule-Books/Rules-of-Golf/Decision-26/#d26-1-1

post #3 of 21
I believe I recall @Fourputt mentioning that usga recommends funky stuff adjacent to hazards be included within the hazard limits for this very reason.
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

I believe I recall @Fourputt mentioning that usga recommends funky stuff adjacent to hazards be included within the hazard limits for this very reason.

 

Interesting.  

 

Sort of leaves this one up in the air then.

post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aguirre View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

I believe I recall @Fourputt mentioning that usga recommends funky stuff adjacent to hazards be included within the hazard limits for this very reason.

 

Interesting.  

 

Sort of leaves this one up in the air then.

 

Nope, not up in the air.  If the margin of the water hazard is marked to include the tall grass, then it's part of the hazard.  If not then it's just rough and a ball lost in it is lost.  It is for exactly this sort of situation that the USGA makes that recommendation so that if the ball is not found, it can't be any place but in the hazard.

post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post
 

 

Nope, not up in the air.  If the margin of the water hazard is marked to include the tall grass, then it's part of the hazard.  If not then it's just rough and a ball lost in it is lost.  It is for exactly this sort of situation that the USGA makes that recommendation so that if the ball is not found, it can't be any place but in the hazard.

 

So this is lazy muni's not marking their hazards.  

post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aguirre View Post
 

 

So this is lazy muni's not marking their hazards.  

Being a 'muni' perhaps they can't afford to.

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post
 

 

Nope, not up in the air.  If the margin of the water hazard is marked to include the tall grass, then it's part of the hazard.  If not then it's just rough and a ball lost in it is lost.  It is for exactly this sort of situation that the USGA makes that recommendation so that if the ball is not found, it can't be any place but in the hazard.

Additionally, it is recommended that the margins of a water hazard should take into account the possibility of awkward/unreasonable drops.  For example, the margins should include something which could make for an unreasonable drop:

 

In general, lines or stakes defining the margins of a water hazard should be placed as nearly as possible along the natural limits of the hazard, i.e. where the ground breaks down to form the depression containing the water. This means that sloping banks will be included within the margins of the hazard. However, if, for example, there is a large bush just outside the natural margin of the water hazard, it is suggested that the bush be included within the hazard margins. Otherwise, a player whose ball entered the hazard in this area may not have a reasonable spot at which to drop. [Guidance on running a Competition, R& A]

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rulesman View Post
 

Being a 'muni' perhaps they can't afford to.

I find it hard to believe that any golf course would have trouble affording a few wooden stakes and a can of spray paint.

post #10 of 21

Lots of reasons why a course may not be marked properly.

 

1) Lack of understanding as to how it should be marked.  Especially at a public course, the person marking may have little knowledge of KVC, USGA guidelines, etc.

2) Although the materials are cheap, there is a labor cost in keeping it up.  Also, few courses keep lines painted.

3) Maintenance costs. (Shoe string budgets.)  At one time the high grass may have been cut down, but the normal maintenance budget doesn't include "weed whacking" the area as often as it should.

 

I'm not saying any of this applies to the OP's course or making excuses, haven't been there.  Generally speaking, however, having hazards not marked correctly, or not marked perfectly, wouldn't really surprise me.  Once you understand the rules of golf however, there should be very few questions as to how to proceed.

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dormie1360 View Post
 

Lots of reasons why a course may not be marked properly.

 

1) Lack of understanding as to how it should be marked.  Especially at a public course, the person marking may have little knowledge of KVC, USGA guidelines, etc.

2) Although the materials are cheap, there is a labor cost in keeping it up.  Also, few courses keep lines painted.

3) Maintenance costs. (Shoe string budgets.)  At one time the high grass may have been cut down, but the normal maintenance budget doesn't include "weed whacking" the area as often as it should.

 

I'm not saying any of this applies to the OP's course or making excuses, haven't been there.  Generally speaking, however, having hazards not marked correctly, or not marked perfectly, wouldn't really surprise me.  Once you understand the rules of golf however, there should be very few questions as to how to proceed.

Agree.  Most of the courses I currently play have hazards where it is difficult to be virtually certain your ball is in it even if you are reasonably certain it is in there.

 

In addition to the reasons Dormie gave, I think hole design can also play a factor when combined with turf quality and grass growth rates.  The 6th Hole at Keystone River has a lake where you would expect the hazard to be marked reasonably close to the lake with moderate rough leading into the area before the hazard.  The problem is that the area that should be moderate rough has clumpy turf that grows at different rates creating patches where you could lose your ball outside the hazard, but extending the hazard to include all this area would tighten up the safe landing area more than the designer of the hole likely intended.

 

I have also seen holes with Environmental Hazards that prohibit entry with long grass outside the hazard leading in- given that you are not even allowed to go into these areas, extending them makes them much more penal, but having long grass leading in means there is a chance your ball could be lost outside the hazard in many cases.

 

FWIW, I have played these courses with a lot of different golfers and 95+% don't understand how the "virtual certainty" part of the rule is suppose to work and just play it as if their ball is in the hazard as long as they think there is a decent chance that is where it is.  

post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dormie1360 View Post
 

Lots of reasons why a course may not be marked properly.

 

1) Lack of understanding as to how it should be marked.  Especially at a public course, the person marking may have little knowledge of KVC, USGA guidelines, etc.

2) Although the materials are cheap, there is a labor cost in keeping it up.  Also, few courses keep lines painted.

3) Maintenance costs. (Shoe string budgets.)  At one time the high grass may have been cut down, but the normal maintenance budget doesn't include "weed whacking" the area as often as it should.

 

I'm not saying any of this applies to the OP's course or making excuses, haven't been there.  Generally speaking, however, having hazards not marked correctly, or not marked perfectly, wouldn't really surprise me.  Once you understand the rules of golf however, there should be very few questions as to how to proceed.

Agree.  Most of the courses I currently play have hazards where it is difficult to be virtually certain your ball is in it even if you are reasonably certain it is in there.

 

In addition to the reasons Dormie gave, I think hole design can also play a factor when combined with turf quality and grass growth rates.  The 6th Hole at Keystone River has a lake where you would expect the hazard to be marked reasonably close to the lake with moderate rough leading into the area before the hazard.  The problem is that the area that should be moderate rough has clumpy turf that grows at different rates creating patches where you could lose your ball outside the hazard, but extending the hazard to include all this area would tighten up the safe landing area more than the designer of the hole likely intended.

 

I have also seen holes with Environmental Hazards that prohibit entry with long grass outside the hazard leading in- given that you are not even allowed to go into these areas, extending them makes them much more penal, but having long grass leading in means there is a chance your ball could be lost outside the hazard in many cases.

 

FWIW, I have played these courses with a lot of different golfers and 95+% don't understand how the "virtual certainty" part of the rule is suppose to work and just play it as if their ball is in the hazard as long as they think there is a decent chance that is where it is.  

 

Sounds to me like they are just negligent.  There is no way that Keystone can't afford to to properly mark and mow the course to make it playable.  At $150 per round for the River Course (and $125 for the Ranch) in prime time, they are clean out of my price range.  My home muni can stake and paint every hazard - a big resort like Keystone with two 18 hole courses certainly ought to be able to do a better job of it.

post #13 of 21

So, is the penalty different for a ball that is "LOST" than for a ball that goes into the "WATER HAZARD"...not being a wise guy, I really do not know.  I am a once a week or so hacker and want to make sure I am scoring/playing correctly.  Thanks...

post #14 of 21

Yes, there is a difference.  Think of it this way.  In both cases the ball is "lost".  If it's Known or Virtually Certain that the ball is lost in the hazard, you may proceed under the water hazard rule. (Rule 26)  If you are not virtually certain that the ball is lost in the hazard, then you must treat it as a lost ball under Rule 27, which is the stroke and distance rule.

 

Make sense?

 

 

26-1. Relief for Ball in Water Hazard

 

http://www.usga.org/Rule-Books/Rules-of-Golf/Rule-26/

 

 

 

27-1. Stroke and Distance; Ball Out of Bounds; Ball Not Found Within Five Minutes

 

http://www.usga.org/Rule-Books/Rules-of-Golf/Rule-27/

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleEagle View Post

So, is the penalty different for a ball that is "LOST" than for a ball that goes into the "WATER HAZARD"...not being a wise guy, I really do not know.  I am a once a week or so hacker and want to make sure I am scoring/playing correctly.  Thanks...

I think the easiest way to understand it is this, if the ball is Lost or OB, it's gone. Disappeared. Ceased to be. If it's in a water hazard it's still in the course and "findable" but completely unplayable because it's under water. Nothing in the rules prevents you from putting on SCUBA gear and going to find it (provided you can do so in 5 mins or less) but once you find it you won't be able to play it. So the penalty for being in the water hazard is basically taking an "unplayable lie".
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest Jones View Post


I think the easiest way to understand it is this, if the ball is Lost or OB, it's gone. Disappeared. Ceased to be. If it's in a water hazard it's still in the course and "findable" but completely unplayable because it's under water. Nothing in the rules prevents you from putting on SCUBA gear and going to find it (provided you can do so in 5 mins or less) but once you find it you won't be able to play it. So the penalty for being in the water hazard is basically taking an "unplayable lie".

Not quite.  Playing from the hazard is an option.

 

Especially if your name is Bill Haas and you really, really want to win the FedEx cup in 2011 :beer: 

 

For the rest of us, though, ....

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest Jones View Post


I think the easiest way to understand it is this, if the ball is Lost or OB, it's gone. Disappeared. Ceased to be. If it's in a water hazard it's still in the course and "findable" but completely unplayable because it's under water. Nothing in the rules prevents you from putting on SCUBA gear and going to find it (provided you can do so in 5 mins or less) but once you find it you won't be able to play it. So the penalty for being in the water hazard is basically taking an "unplayable lie".

I'm sorry to say it but this at the least simply going to confuse and at worse mislead.  That's a polite way of saying that your "explanation" is nonsense.

 

For a start, a ball in a water hazard is not completely unplayable even if it is in the water, and might well be in a dry lie.  One of your options if your ball is in a water hazard is to play the ball as it lies.  It is not that uncommon to play out of a water hazard.  It is not unknown for a player to play a ball that is under water.

 

Also, if you decide to take relief from a water hazard under penalty, the options are different from taking relief from an unplayable ball and most importantly, the point of reference for a drop is completely different.

 

There is more than one way in which a ball is "lost" in terms of the Rules.  Take a look at the Definition of a lost ball and you'll see.  It is not the same as  ball that is out of bounds.  

 

A ball that is out of bounds has not gone, disappeared, ceased to be.  It could be there, right in front of your very eyes and inviting you to make the mistake of playing it.  

 

In the end, I don't think there is anything right in what you have said. :no: 

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Swede View Post
 

Not quite.  Playing from the hazard is an option.

 

Especially if your name is Bill Haas and you really, really want to win the FedEx cup in 2011 :beer: 

 

For the rest of us, though, ....

 

I guess this is the shot you were referring to?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eztW5Hqe-7I

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