My Ball is in a Red Water Hazard Next to a Cart Path

Thanks to reader Lynn for emailing in a question about her ball coming to rest in a lateral water hazard abutting a cart path. Here’s Lynn’s situation.

My drive ended up just off the cart path, in a hazard. The hazard line touched the cart path and my ball was about 6 inches from the line and the path. The hazard was only about a foot wide, from the path to the water and continued that way for about 50 yards each way from the spot of my ball. Four questions relating to cart path issues:

1. What is the ruling for relief in the situation I mentioned?

2. What is the ruling for relief if the red hazard line was not there?  i.e.- Can I take relief on the other side of the cart path?

3. What is the ruling if my ball is on the cart path closer to the hazard but relief doesn’t exist on that side?

4. What is the ruling about dropping a ball on the cart path?


The key to Lynn’s questions is where the ball lies; either through the green, in a hazard (bunker or water), on a putting green or on the teeing ground. In Lynn’s case, her ball lies in a lateral water hazard.

1. What is the ruling for relief in the situation I mentioned?

In her case, since the ball is in a water hazard, there is no relief from the cart path (Rule 24-2b Note 1). She must either play the ball as it lies or proceed under the Water Hazard Rule (Rule 26-1)


2. What is the ruling for relief if the red hazard line was not there?  i.e. - Can I take relief on the other side of the cart path?

If the red line were not there, her ball would be lying through the green and she would be entitled to relief under Rule 24-2b if she had interference from the cart path (i.e. – she was standing on it or it interfered with her area of intended swing). She must find the nearest point of relief and drop the ball no nearer the hole within one club-length of that spot. She does not get a choice. Depending on her direction of play and if she were right handed or left handed, the nearest point of relief can vary. Remember, it is the nearest point of relief, not the nicest point of relief.


3. What is the ruling if my ball is on the cart path closer to the hazard but relief doesn’t exist on that side?

In finding the nearest point of relief when her ball lies through the green (on the cart path), the nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green (see Rule 24-2b (i)). In her case, if she had a cart path bordering a water hazard that extended out quite a ways, the nearest point of relief would be on the fairway side (since the nearest point of relief cannot be in a hazard).


4. What is the ruling about dropping a ball on the cart path?

In taking relief from the lateral water hazard, one of the options (Rule 26-1c) allows her to drop a ball within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard under penalty of one stroke. It does not mention anything about cart paths (obstructions). Therefore, she is required to drop within two club-lengths and if that is on the cart path, so be it. If the ball then comes to rest on the path, she can take relief from the cart path without penalty.

You need to do it in two steps. You are not allowed to skip and just drop over on the fairway (there used to be a Local Rule that allowed you to do that but it has since been removed. I wish they would bring that one back).

Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.

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