Rules Review – Parts of the Golf Course 3

Part Three of a Four-Part Series

Every golf course is divided into four major parts.  Understanding these four parts of the golf course is essential to understanding HOW to apply the Rules of Golf. In the next four weeks we are going to discuss the four parts of the golf course.


Week Three: Hazards

A hazard, as illustrated in the photo above, is one of two things: a bunker or a water hazard. A bunker is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like. A water hazard is any sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open water course (whether or not containing water) and anything of a similar nature on the course.

When referencing a Rules book, you will notice that oftentimes a Rule will refer to a bunker or a water hazard separately – in this case, although they are both ‘hazards’, they are treated differently. It is also important to understand that if a Rule ONLY refers to a ‘hazard’ it is being inclusive of both a bunker AND a water hazard. For example, Rule 23 (Loose Impediments) states that Except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in and touch the same hazard, loose impediments may be removed without penalty. In this case, ‘hazard’ covers both bunkers and water hazards.

We will go into more detail about both bunkers and water hazards separately in the coming weeks, but for now, we will discuss a few helpful hints that pertain to hazards in general, whether it’s a bunker OR a water hazard.


Helpful hints about hazards:

  • You cannot touch the ground in a hazard or water in a water hazard with your hand or club (Rule 13-4b) – but make sure you fully understand the meaning of ‘grounding your club’. In order for a player to breach this Rule (thus grounding her club), the grass must be compressed to the point where it will support the weight of the club. (Decision 13-4/8) This means that you can touch any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing at address or in the backward movement for the stroke. (Note to Rule 13-4) Furthermore, you CAN touch grass with your club during your practice swing in a hazard as long as you are not grounding your club. (Decision 13-4/4)
  • Loose impediments CANNOT be moved in hazards, no matter what. If your ball and the loose impediment touch the same hazard, don’t move the loose impediment unless you want a two-stroke penalty. (Rule 23)
  • Movable obstructions can be moved ANYWHERE on the golf course, so you can move a movable obstruction in a hazard. Movable obstructions are movable man-made objects such as water bottles, cigarette butts, rakes, etc. (Rule 24-1)
  • A ball cannot be embedded in a hazard. Whether you’re in a water hazard or a bunker, your ball can never be considered embedded and you will never get relief for an embedded ball. (Rule 25-2)

Make sure to check back next week for Part Four of this series – Through the Green!
Questions about hazards? Email Maggie.

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