7. Concept of “Penalty Areas” to Supersede “Water Hazards”

: Rule 26-1 allows relief with penalty when a ball is in a “water hazard” (marked

yellow) or a “lateral water hazard” (marked red).

 

Ø  These hazards are limited to areas with water or where water may flow; no other areas may be marked as water hazards, even if they might present similar obstacles to play.

 

Ø  Water hazards are intended as the norm; lateral water hazards are to be used only when it is impracticable to drop a ball behind a water hazard under Rule 26-1b.

 

Proposed Rule: Under the new Rules, “Water hazards” would be superseded by the expanded concept of “penalty areas“, and new Rule 17 will provide the same basic options for relief that exist under the current Rules: 

 

Ø  A penalty area would include both (1) all areas currently defined in the Rules as a water hazard or lateral water hazard and (2) any other areas the Committee chooses to define as penalty areas (with recommended guidelines to be provided in the Handbook). 

 

Ø  Penalty areas may therefore include areas such as deserts, jungles, lava rock fields, etc.

 

Ø  The two types of penalty areas would be known by the colour of their marking: red penalty areas (today called lateral water hazards) and yellow penalty areas (today called water hazards); and Committees would be given the discretion to mark all penalty areas as red so that lateral relief would always be allowed.

 

Ø  The term “hazard” would no longer be used in the Rules.

 

Reasons for Change

 

Ø  The options to take relief back on a line behind any water hazard (Rule 26-1b) or within two club-lengths of where a ball entered a lateral water hazard have become important for pace of play, as the player can usually play from near the hazard rather than having to go back some distance to play from where the previous stroke was made. 

 

Ø  It has been recognised that requiring areas to contain water seems to be a somewhat arbitrary reason for permitting such relief options.   

 

Ø  For reasons such as safety and pace of play, many Committees have sought to expand the use of lateral water hazards by marking areas that do not contain water and by marking water hazards as red where that is not specifically contemplated by the Rules.

 

The broader use of “penalty areas” would allow Committees to respond to the wide range of settings in which golf is played by giving relief from areas that present similar obstacles to existing water hazards

Ø  Rules.

 

Reasons for Change

 

Ø  The options to take relief back on a line behind any water hazard (Rule 26-1b) or within two club-lengths of where a ball entered a lateral water hazard have become important for pace of play, as the player can usually play from near the hazard rather than having to go back some distance to play from where the previous stroke was made. 

 

Ø  It has been recognised that requiring areas to contain water seems to be a somewhat arbitrary reason for permitting such relief options.   

 

Ø  For reasons such as safety and pace of play, many Committees have sought to expand the use of lateral water hazards by marking areas that do not contain water and by marking water hazards as red where that is not specifically contemplated by the Rules.

 

Ø  The broader use of “penalty areas” would allow Committees to respond to the wide range of settings in which golf is played by giving relief from areas that present similar obstacles to existing water hazards such as difficulties with finding and playing a ball and similar practical needs about pace of play.

 

Ø  Giving Committees the discretion to mark all penalty areas as red would make it simpler for players to learn the relief options (as the distinction between yellow and red water hazards is not always well understood) and would further help pace of play.  

 

Ø  Individual Committees would remain free to choose what to mark as a penalty area (and so for example could decide only to mark traditional water hazards) and when to mark a penalty area as yellow (such as to preserve the challenge of playing a particular hole).

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