If you’re still referring to this area of the course as a water hazard rather than a penalty area, you’ll definitely want to see this video. Take at peek below at the simplest penalty area video you’ll ever watch.

If you’ve been playing golf for a while, you probably are used to referring to this area of the course as a water hazard. But, in 2019, the name of this area of the course changed to Penalty Areas. Previous to 2019, you were not allowed to ground your club, or take a practice swing in a penalty area, but now you can. You can also remove loose impediments with no penalty. But, be sure that doing so doesn’t cause your ball to move or you will incur a penalty for that.

Penalty Areas Rule 17, You can remove loose impediments with no penalty (Rule 15.1b)… if doing so causes your ball to move, one stroke penalty.

Now, let’s dive into your options if your ball lands in a penalty area.

Option 1: Play it as it lies

First of all, you always have the option of playing it as it lies. And, since you can take a practice swing, it might give you a little more confidence to go ahead and hit out of the penalty area.

In addition to playing the ball as it lies, you have two more options. And, each costs a one stroke penalty,

Pro tip: in a previous video, we talked about hitting provisional balls when your ball might be lost, or out of bounds. But, if you’re aware that the only place your ball could be lost is in a penalty area, then a provisional is not allowed. Provisional Ball, Rule 14.3

Option 2: Stroke & Distance (Rule 18.1)

Stroke and distance means you’ll play the original ball, or another ball, from the spot where the pervious stroke was made. In other words, the shot that got you here.

Option 3: Back-On-The-Line (Rule 17.1d(2))

For back-on-the-line relief, you may drop a ball in a relief area that’s based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the estimated point where you original ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area.

Note: Using back-on-the-line relief, you may go back as far as you like

You should indicate your reference point by using a tee and you have within one club-length of that reference point to take your drop, no nearer the hole. 

Note: A club-length is defined as the longest club in your bag, except for your putter.

Have you heard you can take Lateral Relief from a penalty area?

Well, yes you can, if the penalty area is marked by red lines or stakes. These red, or Lateral Penalty Areas, give you an additional option to take a lateral drop within two club-lengths of the point that your ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area.

Lateral Relief from a red penalty area (Rule 17.1d(3))

I hope that clears up some questions you may have about penalty areas. If you like these videos, or you have questions, please share your comments below.

Filmed at The Santaluz Club. Marcela is wearing GGBlue Apparel. 

Marcela launched Girlfriends Guide To Golf and her On-Course Rules Experiences to grow the game, help women learn the rules of golf, and feel more confident out on the course.

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