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Rules to Play By Where Do I Drop

Editor's note: Each week, Ray Herzog, a rules expert from the San Diego Golf Academy in Orlando, Fla., will be answering reader-submitted questions involving the Rules of Golf. Look for Ray's Q&A every Thursday on
A par 3 where I play has a forced carry over water. If the ball hits land on the opposite side of the water hazard, but rolls back into the water, where should the next shot be played from? Weve had many disagreements over this. I say you have not carried the water hazard and must drop behind it.
Thank you, Steve


From the way you are describing the par 3, it sounds like it is marked with yellow paint or stakes. If that is the case, it is a water hazard. You have three relief options when you hit your ball into a water hazard, they can be found in Rule #26. (Water Hazards)
1. Play it as it lies (no penalty)
2. Stroke and Distance (1 stroke penalty)
3. Drop a ball behind hazard keeping in line the flagstick and point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard (1 stroke penalty)
You are correct when you said the ball did not carry the water hazard. The point you are looking for is where the ball last crossed the hazard line. If your shot carried the hazard line and rolled back in, use that point for option 3 above. If your shot did not carry the hazard line on the green side, you will have to use the last point where it crossed on your side of the water. Either way, you have to drop the ball behind the hazard in line with the flagstick and where he ball last crossed. Unless you want to hit the ball from in the water, you will have to hit another ball over the water.
-- Ray

While addressing my ball before my second shot on the fairway, my club touches -- but doesn't move -- my ball. Does this count as a stroke? What if the ball moves only slightly, but returns to it's original position, after moving the club back...does this count as a stroke?
Shawn Campbell
Folsom, Calif.

The answer to your question can be found in the front of the rule book in the Definitions section. A ball is deemed to have moved if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other position. As far as the rule book sees it, there would be no penalties for the two examples listed in your question. In both your examples, the ball never came to rest in any other position.
Just remember, if you ever move your golf ball, you must put it back to its original position and take a one-stroke penalty. Be careful when addressing the golf ball; try not to get so close where you might be penalized.
-- Ray

Recently, I drove my ball into the fairway and then turned over the tee to my playing partner for his tee shot. He also drove his ball into the fairway and low and behold it ended its roll directly behind and touching may ball which is now closer to the hole than his. How to we play this? Do we pick up my ball and leave a mark in front of his ball for him to shoot over, then drop my ball at the marked spot. Or do we place the ball on the marked area and then play my shot. Thanks for your help.
Al Packwood
Bradenton, Florida

You would think with how much room there is on a golf course, you wouldnt have to worry about hitting two little golf balls right next to each other. This happens more than you think. The correct procedure is to mark one of the golf balls and lift it. Be careful not to clean the golf ball when you lift it, it would be a one-stroke penalty. After the player has played his approach shot, you replace the ball to its original position. Place it, dont drop it.
If the original lie has been altered with a divot, the ball must be placed in the nearest lie most similar to the original lie. This point cannot be more that one-club length away or closer to the hole than the original lie.

My son hit me with this one the other day. He said that a PGA TOUR player can only have one dozen golf balls in his bag during tournament play. I said he was smoking bio-degradable tees. Is there any thing in the rules about the number of golf balls you can start a tournament with?
Jerry H Mika

Fourteen golf clubs is the only limitation on equipment that I know of. A few years ago I was lucky enough to caddie for a player on The Champions Tour. I can tell you from personal experience that he carried more that 12 golf balls. He would sign that many during a round and give them to the kids who were watching. So tell you son that he got some bad info, and that smoking tees will stunt his growth.
Thank you for your questions,
Ray Herzog
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