An Update On Relief From Penalty Areas

Red and Yellow stakes are often confused. Most amateurs who do not understand the rules and drop the ball within 2 club lengths of their point of entry into the hazard and then just carry on. They often ask the question about the number of penalty stokes they must count and sometimes ‘forget’ the penalty all together. For the weekend golfer who does not really care that much about their score, it really does not matter. However, when playing in a competition it is important to understand your options in order to avoid unnecessary penalty added to your overall score.

The rules changed in 2019 regarding penalty areas (no longer called hazards). The changes might be subtle, but knowing how to properly enforce the red and yellow penalty areas will benefit your game on the scorecard, mentally and emotionally. I will explain my thoughts more after the video.

There are couple aspects of the video that I find interesting that should be explored. First, is the cut area versus the location of the stake location. On every golf course I played in the past, there are areas where the stakes do not match the cut area. Understanding the intent of the golf course is very important. Generally, if an area is staked I follow the cut of the grass. However, if it is unclear because of a poor cutting job, I revert to a straight line between posts. Sometimes my interpretation is a benefit and other times it is not, but that is the rub of the green.

The second point to remember is that the relief from a red stake is different that that of a yellow one. Relief from a yellow staked penalty area does no offer the option of a lateral movement within two club lengths. This fact is often unknown to most amateurs and therefore they treat all relief options the same regardless of the stake colour.

On a side note, the rule changes allow for moving loose impediments and grounding your club in the penalty area. This is a drastic change that was included in the 2019 release of the rules of golf. I often thought it these changes should have been adopted years ago and I was happy to see them included in the release.

Understanding the rules of golf is very important to your final score. During a friendly, most amateurs are lax with rule enforcement and personally I could care less. However, during a competition rule enforcement is very important. I am a stickler for the rules and believe that if any athlete wants to compete, then knowing the rules is critical to their success.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


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