The Golf Rules Dictionary
by Hadyn Rutter


What is it?

any temporary accumulation of water on the course (other than a water hazard) visible before or after the player takes his stance (DF)

it includes:

    snow and ice
    overflow from a water hazard if outside the hazard (D25/2)
    a pitch mark filled with water (D25/3)
it does not include:
    soft mushy ground(D25/1)
    water which appears when pressing a footmark down (D25/2)
    dew and frost
    manufactured ice
    water on the putting green which was not visible when taking stance but which became visible when approaching the ball. (D25/5)
  • after

when water comes to the surface as a result of normal pressure from the player's feet in taking his stance

Basic Rules
  1. the player is entitled to relief when his ball lies in or touches casual water or when it is on the course and interferes with his stance or area of intended swing (or if the ball is on the putting green, his line of putt). (R25.1.a)

  2. if a ball is lost in casual water

  3. searching for a ball in casual water - no penalty if the ball is accidentally moved - it should be replaced unless the player opts to take relief as below. (R12.1)

  4. a player may not brush away casual water; but the committee may (D33/1)
  1. for breach of the rules permitting relief from casual water - loss of hole/2 strokes (R25)
  1. play the ball as it lies or
  2. take relief by identifying and marking the nearest point of relief being the point on the course nearest to where ball lies which avoids interference by the casual water, is not in a hazard or on a putting green and is not nearer the hole then lifting and dropping his ball as follows: (i) through the green:
      without penalty within one club length of that point (R25.1b (i))- this may mean dropping in the rough even though the ball had originally been on the fairway or vice versa
      *take relief
      a player may choose only one of the options for relief - having chosen one he cannot then try the other if the first is unsatisfactory (D25.1b/9)
      if casual water is in ground under repair he may first take relief from casual water and then take further relief from the GUR (D25.1b/11)

      *one club length
      the ball may then roll up to a further 2 club lengths

    (ii) in a bunker- either

      (1) without penalty as above but in the bunker except that if complete relief is not available at this point then drop elsewhere in the bunker as near as possible to the original spot but no nearer the hole and on ground which affords maximum relief from the casual water or

      (2) with one stroke penalty outside the hazard as far back as the player wishes on the extension of the line between the original spot and the hole and not nearer the hole (R25.1b.(ii))

    (iii) on the putting green - without penalty place at the nearest point of relief or if maximum relief is not available at a point affording maximum possible relief as near as possible to the original spot but not nearer the hole nor in a hazard (R25.1b(iii)) even if off the green

  1. relief without penalty is not available if the casual water is in a water hazard so the player must proceed under the rules re water hazard (W2)
    *bunker - e.g. if in bunker completely comvered by water (D.25.1b/8) player can either drop in the shallowest water, adopt procedure 2 (ii)(2) or declare the ball unplayable.

    *on the green - where the ball is off the green no relief merely because casual water on the green is on the line of putt - if the player brushes away casual water - loss of hole/2 stroke penalty (D13.2/34)

    *as near as possible - if the best relief is off the green the player may place the ball off the green (D25.1b/10)


relief is not available

  1. if it is unreasonable to play a stroke because of anything other than the casual water of if interference by the casual water would only occur because the player uses an unneccessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play

  2. if the Committee has made a local rule denying relief from intereference with stance by the casual water

  3. a player may not brush away the casual water - this is deemed improving the Line of Play - loss of hole/2 stroke penalty

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