Rules of Golf – Hazards & The Difference Between Yellow Stakes and Red Stakes

This new section, prepared by our unofficial “Rules Secretary” Mr Allan McNicoll, highlights some specific rules of golf with some simple explanations to those new to the game or to those that have perhaps forgotten.

This week we will focus on hazards and the difference between red and yellow stakes ….

Hazards Marked with Yellow Stakes

If you do choose to take relief, the first option that you have is to play your next shot from as close as possible to the point from which you hit your original shot. So, if you were in the middle of the fairway at 150 yards and you hit it in the drink, you can go back to that spot and try to hit the shot again, plus a one-stroke penalty. Thus, if you hit your second shot in the water, you would be hitting your fourth shot from that same spot. This is the less commonly selected choice of the two because it is essentially a stroke and distance penalty The second option for relief from a yellow hazard is usually your best option, but is also the most misunderstood choice as well. The other way to take relief from a yellow hazard is to mark the point that the ball crossed the hazard and then draw a line between that point and the flag. You may drop your ball at any point on that line. Essentially, you can go back, keeping the point where your ball crossed the hazard in line with the pin, as far as you choose to go. Please note that you cannot go back on the line of flight that your ball took as it flew into the hazard! That is the most common mistake in this type of relief situation. How your ball got there doesn’t matter. What matters is the point where it crossed the hazard. Those are the two different forms of relief that you may take for a water hazard or any other hazard marked by a yellow stake. 
Hazards Marked with Red Stakes
 Red stakes are used to mark lateral hazards. Because these hazards run parallel to the hole, it is often times impractical to take relief by going behind the hazard as described in the second option of the yellow stakes. So, the rules of golf allow for an additional option for relief if your ball is in a red hazard. That third option is to take relief within two club lengths of where the ball crossed the hazard, no nearer to the pin. This may be down from either side of the red hazard. Just because your ball crossed the hazard on the right side doesn’t mean that you can’t take relief, within two club lengths and equidistant from the hole, on the left side of the same hazard. That third option is the only difference between a hazard marked by red stakes and a hazard marked by yellow stakes.

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