Rules Column: Russ Wing

When your ball is near a lateral water hazard, know your options

During this year’s WIAA 4A Boy’s State Golf Championship at Canyon Lakes GC in Kennewick, I was directed to #12 to help a player with a ruling.

When I got there, I saw the situation shown in the photo accompanying this article. The player’s ball was close to but outside the Lateral Water Hazard (LWH), and the ball was resting next to a detached reed that was partly inside and partly outside the LWH.

The player remembered that moving or simply touching a loose impediment (the detached reed) in a LWH was a violation of the Rules. And so he wanted a clarification of his situation and his options.

Most importantly, I think the player did exactly the right thing calling for a ruling in this situation. The Rules can be complicated, and this is one of those times.

What the player was remembering was part of Rule 13-4 Ball in Hazard, Prohibited Actions. Rule 13-4 says that when the player’s ball and a loose impediment both lie in the same hazard, if the player touches or moves the loose impediment, he gets a 2-stroke penalty.

In this case, the player’s ball was not in the LWH. And so Rule 13-4 didn’t apply. Consequently, there was no penalty to the player for simply touching or moving this loose impediment (the detached reed).

However, if touching or moving the detached reed caused his ball to move, then the player would get a 1-stroke penalty for a violation of Rule 18-2 Ball At Rest Moved By Player, Partner, Caddy or Equipment, and the ball would need to be replaced.

After I explained all this to the player and his coach, the player decided to not touch or move the detached reed and to just play the ball as it lay.

This is a good example of how a situation can often involve multiple Rules and be complicated. If you’re playing in an event where Rules Officials are available, please take advantage of their services.