Golf Course Hazards
Hazards are bunkers, such as sand traps and all water hazards on the golf course. Your goal should be to avoid these hazards as much as possible. It is safer to fade or hook a ball around a bunker or water hazard than to try to go straight over it and take the risk of landing in it.
One of the widespread errors that lots of amateurs make is to not use enough club when going over these obstacles, especially when going against the wind. You should use enough club to clear any hazard in front of the greens you play.
A neat trick is to use one more club than you were thinking, and then choke up on the club. This means placing your hands on the club about 1 to 2 inches from the top of the grip, instead of at the end of the grip as you would for a normal shot. You’ll still get the distance you need and the shot will be easier to execute. With regards to water hazards, know your rights and obligations according to the rules.
When yellow stakes define the beginning and end of a water hazard:
These water hazards are usually right in front of you, between you and the hole. If your ball ends up in a yellow staked water hazard you can play the ball as is, without grounding your club in the hazard, or count one penalty stroke and drop anywhere behind the hazard, going as far back as you want, as long as you are not closer to the hole and you keep the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard between you and the hole.
This means that if you drew a line between where you drop it and the point where it first crossed the hazard, to the pin, it would form a straight line. It is a good idea to drop the ball in the fairway to ensure yourself of a good lie, and as close to the hazard as possible so your shot to the green is shorter.
When red stakes define the beginning and end of a water hazard:
These hazards are usually to the left or right of the fairway and not right in front of you. The local golf course's rules can set which types of stakes are used. You can drop on the other side of the water but not closer to the hole, or play from within the hazard without grounding your club.
However, the correct play is usually to drop within two club lengths of where the ball entered the hazard but not closer to the hole.
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