It’s that time of the year for the rains to start and that can only mean one thing; Casual Water. Let’s take a quick refresher and get prepared.
So what is casual water and how do the Rules of Golf handle it?
By definition, “casual water” is any temporary accumulation of water on the course that is not in a water hazard and is visible before or after the player takes his stance. Snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player. Manufactured ice is an obstruction. Dew and frost are not casual water. A ball is in casual water when it lies in or any part of it touches the casual water.
Rule 25-1 covers “Casual Water” and it gets lumped into the term “Abnormal Ground Conditions” and is treated just like “Ground Under Repair” as far as the Rules are concerned.
OK, ground rules out of the way; let’s go over how to proceed.
First determine where you are on the golf course (through the green, in a bunker or on a putting green) and then find out if you have interference from the casual water. That occurs when your ball is lying in it, you are standing in it or your area of intended swing is going to hit it. If your ball lies on the putting green, you also have interference if the casual water intervenes on the line you wish your ball to take after you hit it. And remember, there’s no such thing as casual water in a water hazard.
If you do have interference, you are entitled to relief if you want it. Depending where you may have to drop or place your ball, you may not want to take relief!
If you lie through the green, without penalty, drop your ball within one club-length and not nearer the hole than the nearest point on the course that avoids interference from the casual water. Make sure that point is not in a hazard or on a putting green. If it’s a big puddle, you may be dropping fifty yards back!
If you lie in a bunker, you drop the ball the same as when you lie through the green but you must stay in the bunker if you want relief without penalty. If you can’t find a spot that avoids interference from the casual water in the bunker, you must drop it at the point that affords maximum available relief (i.e.- the bunker is completely flooded and you’re in six inches of water dropping into only one inch of water). Or, if all else fails, you can drop behind the bunker under penalty of one stroke if you have interference by keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the spot where you drop it.
And finally, if your ball lies on the putting green and you have casual water on the line you wish to putt your ball, you may lift your ball without penalty and place it at the nearest point that avoids the casual water that is no nearer the hole. Depending on the size of the puddle, you may be placing it off the green!
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.