Red and Yellow Hazards
By kickntrue on 8/2/10
By Matt Snyder, ClubSG Contributor

Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. His column will appear each Monday on ClubSG. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

The game of golf has just about as many rules and interpretations as every other major sport combined! The number of different crazy scenarios that occur on a golf course seems to be infinite. So, it is unrealistic to expect golfers, especially the weekend golfer, to know all the rules of the game. However, it is fair to say that if you are going to play the game, you should take a little time to learn the basic rules that are needed most frequently. It is my plan to do a couple different posts to help explain the most common rulings come up in the course of the average round.

It doesn't matter what is inside the stakes, but instead the color of the stakes.

In this column, I want to highlight the distinction between yellow and red hazards. Because these colors are most often used to define water hazards, players rarely know the difference between the two colors in terms of how you may take relief. Additionally, we relate the colors red and yellow with water when, in fact, they can be used to mark any hazard with or without water. Golf courses will also define hazards, such as weeds or natural grass areas, with the same red or yellow stakes. So, the first thing that needs to be understood is that hazards are hazards. It doesn’t matter what is inside the stakes, but the color of those stakes is what is important.

Let's look at the yellow hazard first. Most commonly, yellow stakes can be found marking the boundary of a pond or stream that runs directly between the tee box and the green. In other words, the hazard must be crossed at some point in order to get to the green. If your ball comes to rest in a hazard marked by yellow stakes, you have two options as to how you may take relief. It should also be noted that you don’t have to take relief. If you want to play the ball out of the hazard, red or yellow, you may. However, you may not move any loose impediments in the hazard and you also may not ground your club in the hazard. But, you do have the option to play the ball as it lies.

If you do choose to take relief, the first option that you have is to play your next shot from as close as possible to the point from which you hit your original shot. So, if you were in the middle of the fairway at 150 yards and you hit it in the drink, you can go back to that spot and try to hit the shot again, plus a one-stroke penalty. Thus, if you hit your second shot in the water, you would be hitting your fourth shot from that same spot. This is the less commonly selected choice of the two because it is essentially a stroke and distance penalty.

it is often times impractical to take relief by going behind the hazard so the rules of golf allow for an additional option for relief.

The second option for relief from a yellow hazard is usually your best option, but is also the most misunderstood choice as well. The other way to take relief from a yellow hazard is to mark the point that the ball crossed the hazard and then draw a line between that point and the flag. You may drop your ball at any point on that line. Essentially, you can go back, keeping the point where your ball crossed the hazard in line with the pin, as far as you choose to go. Please note that you cannot go back on the line of flight that your ball took as it flew into the hazard! That is the most common mistake in this type of relief situation. How your ball got there doesn’t matter. What matters is the point where it crossed the hazard. Those are the two different forms of relief that you may take for a water hazard or any other hazard marked by a yellow stake.

Ok, so what about red stakes? Well, red stakes are used to mark lateral hazards. Because these hazards run parallel to the hole, it is often times impractical to take relief by going behind the hazard as described in the second option of the yellow stakes. So, the rules of golf allow for an additional option for relief if your ball is in a red hazard. That third option is to take relief within two club lengths of where the ball crossed the hazard, no nearer to the pin. This may be down from either side of the red hazard. Just because your ball crossed the hazard on the right side doesn’t mean that you can’t take relief, within two club lengths and equidistant from the hole, on the left side of the same hazard. That third option is the only difference between a hazard marked by red stakes and a hazard marked by yellow stakes.

Hazards are a very common part of most golf courses. And, if you're like me, your ball is likely to find its way into them sooner or later. Hopefully, this will help you to know your options when you find yourself in this predicament. Remember, don’t hesitate to spread the word to your playing partners when they are in a similar scenario and don’t know what to do. Too often, guys just throw a ball down and play on because they don’t know any other way. Do your best to change that and help others play the game as it was meant to be played.

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

photo source

[ comments ]
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