Rules of Golf - Temporary Water
Written by: Darin Green, Senior Director of Rules & Competitions
Florida was bombarded with rain over the past couple of weeks so I felt we should revisit taking relief from temporary water. That’s right; it is called “temporary water”, not “casual water” anymore. The term changed when the new Rules of Golf was released in 2019. The term “temporary water” more accurately describes the situation and translates to other languages better.
What is temporary water? It is any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation, or an overflow from a body of water) that is not in a penalty area. Additionally, the water must visible before or after the player takes a stance (without pressing down excessively with his or her feet). Dew and frost are not temporary water.
When are you allowed to take free relief? Temporary water is an abnormal course condition and free relief is available when you have interference for your stance, lie of ball, or area of intended swing. Relief from temporary water is available on all areas of the course except penalty areas and no play zones. If your ball is in the bunker then you must stay in the bunker when taking free relief.
How do you take relief? Taking relief from temporary water is the same as taking relief from a cart path. First, find your nearest point of complete relief that is not closer to the hole and not in a penalty area. Then drop a ball within one club-length of your nearest point of complete relief.
If your ball is on the putting green, you are also entitled to free relief for your line of play. If your ball is on the putting green and temporary water is on your line of play you may place a ball at the nearest point not closer to the hole that avoids the temporary water. Your nearest point of complete may be off the putting green.
Tip – A common misconception is that if your ball is in the rough it must stay in the rough. That is not true! The fairway and rough are both part of the general area. If your ball is in the rough and you are taking relief from temporary water then you must find your nearest point of complete relief that is in the general area regardless of the height of the grass. Sometimes your nearest point of complete relief may be in very good locations, like the fairway, or sometimes in an undesirable location, like a bush. Always find your nearest point of complete before lifting your ball because sometimes you may not want to take relief once you find the area where you will be dropping.
Stay dry out there!