Here what the Rules of Golf say about temporary water

Has a recent soaking left the lakes and ponds on your course spilling onto the fairway? Here’s what you need to know

When we’re not being threatened with fines for getting a hosepipe out of the garage, it feels like we need to build an Ark – such is the deluge that can come down from the skies at any given moment.

The weather’s a curious thing these days and the latter, the kind of downpours that can quickly render our golf courses unplayable, gives rise to the question posed by reader Phil DuBourdieu.

He emailed: “My friend and I were playing a match and we were on a short par-4 with a lake fronting the green. There had been a lot of rain the previous week and the lake was overflowing but the red line delineating the hazard was clearly visible and my friends’ ball was clearly outside the red line but was in the water. 

“Is this a penalty stroke and considered in the hazard or do you treat the overflow of the lake like casual water with a free drop? I allowed a free drop but not sure that is how it should have played out.”

So what should you do when the water has spilled out from the penalty area? Let’s take a look…

Standing water golf rules explained

For all of you out there who might sometimes feel the Rules of Golf can be complex or difficult, the answer to this one comes straight out of the drawer marked ‘common sense’.

If the ball isn’t in the penalty area, then it’s in temporary water and you can take free relief from the abnormal course condition as allowed by Rule 16.1.

If you want a bit more detail, check out the definition of Temporary Water. While you’ll be aware that it is classed as “any temporary accumulation of water on the surface on the ground”, that includes “an overflow from a body of water that … is not in a penalty area.”

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s Level 3 rules exam with distinction, I’ll try to help by featuring the best in this column.

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