|There is obviously a stake missing on the left side of the photo.|
Photo: Boleslav Bobcik
I have been asked to clarify the situation where a player is not absolutely sure whether their ball lies within the margin of a water hazard, or not. This can arise when a stake defining the margin of the hazard has either been wrongly positioned or is missing.
Part of the Definition of Lateral Water Hazard states;
When the margin of a lateral water hazard is defined by stakes, the stakes are inside the lateral water hazard, and the margin of the hazard is defined by the nearest outside points of the stakes at ground level.That is fine when the stakes have been correctly positioned, but if it is obvious that the stakes have been improperly installed, or there is a stake missing, then Decision 26/2 applies;
Q. Stakes defining the margin of a water hazard were improperly installed. As a result, an area which clearly was part of the water hazard was outside the stakes and, thus, technically was outside the hazard. A player's ball came to rest in water in this area. The player claimed that, in view of the alignment of the stakes, his ball was in casual water through the green. Was the claim valid?I am surprised at how many courses I have played where the stakes surrounding a water hazard have been positioned incorrectly in that they are placed on the sloping bank leading down to the water. So a player who has to take relief from the hazard is not only penalised one stroke under Rule 26-1a, but then has to drop their ball on the slope, with the result that their ball is going to be either some way above or below their feet, depending on the direction they are playing, when they make their next stroke. Decision 33-2a/4 is relevant in this context;
A. No. The Committee erred in not properly defining the margin of the hazard as required by Rule 33-2a, but a player is not entitled to take advantage of such an error. Since it was clear that the place where the player's ball lay was within the natural boundaries of the water hazard, the claim should not be upheld.
Lines and 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 Committees should ensure that sloping banks should be included within the margins of the hazard, as it is their responsibility. Rule 33-2 states;
The Committee must define accurately:If your Committee is guilty of incorrectly positioning the stakes around water hazards, or if there are stakes missing, you should immediately bring it to their attention, for the benefit of other members and visitors playing the course.
(i) the course and out of bounds,
(ii) the margins of water hazards and lateral water hazards,
(iii) ground under repair, and
(iv) obstructions and integral parts of the course.
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