Yellow hazard margin


A spot of bother with a water hazard

I mean, look at that. What’s a golfer supposed to do here? Is the hazard margin part of the pond or not? Are we in a tennis situation, where the line is part of the court? Or is it like football, where the whole of the ball needs to have crossed the line to be deemed off the pitch?

I wasn’t sure, so to avoid any trouble, I took the safe option. I assumed that my ball being on the hazard margin was bad news and I didn’t ground my club. Well done me:

Section 2 – Definitions

When the margin of a water hazard is defined by stakes, the stakes are inside the water hazard, and the margin of the hazard is defined by the nearest outside points of the stakes at ground level. When both stakes and lines are used to indicate a water hazard, the stakes identify the hazard and the lines define the hazard margin. When the margin of a water hazard is defined by a line on the ground, the line itself is in the water hazard. The margin of a water hazard extends vertically upwards and downwards.

A ball is in a water hazard when it lies in or any part of it touches the water hazard.


Excuse me?

“The margin of a water hazard extends vertically upwards and downwards”

What on sweet mother Earth does that mean? The only situation I could envisage where this would be relevant is if gravity suddenly stopped working and my ball hovered over the hazard. I looked this up, and it appears that this covers the case where a ball is lodged in a tree above a water hazard. If it is within the hazard margin, it is considered to be in the hazard. That means you can drop it behind the hazard with a one shot penalty. But downwards? In what reality-bending Boris Vian world would that rule be applied? Answer: it’s to do with bunnies. Keep reading…

Hazard margin rabbit

Not enough cute rabbit photos on this site, if you ask me


Bunkers are different: they extend downwards, but not upwards, so you’re ok if your ball is caught in a branch over a bunker. This is where bunnies come out to play. Imagine that your ball rolls into a rabbit hole and you can see that it’s gone past the margin of the bunker. This means that your ball is no longer in the bunker. You get free relief and the reference point is the spot on the ground directly above the ball. If your ball is in the hole, but within the margin, it is deemed to be in the bunker, as the margin extends downwards. You can then take a free drop, but it has to be inside the bunker.

Ground under repair

Patches of ground under repair are like bunkers: they extend downwards, but not upwards. This means that you can take relief from the branch of a tree growing within the ground under repair margin if it impedes your swing, even if the branch is outside the line. However, you can’t take free relief from the roots of a tree growing within the GUR margin, because the margin extends downwards, which means that anything below the ground is outside the GUR.

So there you go. How’s your headache? During my research, I discovered the incredible resource that is Ask Linda. Linda is basically the Queen of Golf Rules. It appears that there is nothing she doesn’t know. How have I survived so far without her wisdom?