We have a lot of water hazards in Bearna, all marked with yellow or red stakes. What are your options if your ball ends up in one of them? You may play the ball as it lies without penalty if, for example, it is on the grassy bank within the water hazard margin in front of the 7th green. If you decide to play the ball as it lies make sure you do not ground your club before you play your shot. You may touch the grass on your backswing but you may not touch or remove any loose natural objects like leaves or loose grass or straw before you play your shot. If your ball is plugged in the hazard the local rule for relief for an embedded ball DOES NOT apply! Do not be temped to clean your club in the water before you play your shot. It may be a better option to take relief and drop the ball under penalty outside the hazard. Now your options depend on whether the hazard has yellow stakes, defined as a water hazard or red stakes, defined as a lateral water hazard. If the stakes are yellow you have 2 options both under penalty of 1 stroke:
1. Go back and play a ball from where you last played. If it was a tee shot you may tee up the ball.
2. Drop a ball behind the hazard anywhere along an imaginary line between the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard and the hole, with no limit as to how far back you may go. Use this option carefully and don’t just drop the ball immediately behind the hazard particularly if it means dropping in an area of heavy rough or long grass. If it is possible pick a spot back on the line where you can hopefully get a decent lie when you drop a ball and choose a preferred distance for your next shot. Once you drop the ball and it is at rest it is in play and cannot be redropped unless it rolls back into the hazard (or requires redropping under any of the conditions described in Rule 20-2).
If the stakes are red you have 2 more options in addition to the options for yellow stakes. You may drop a ball within 2 club lengths of the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard, no nearer the hole, or you may drop a ball on the opposite side of the lateral water hazard equidistant from the hole. This can be a very useful option if for example, your ball goes into the lateral water hazard that runs up the middle of the 6th hole. Further up the 6th hole there are more lateral hazards on the left hand side so if your ball goes into one of these hazards check if dropping behind the hazard is a better option than dropping within 2 club lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard.
Use the rules to your advantage by knowing all your options!
Rule 26 Water Hazards
Rule 13-4 Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions
Rule 20-2 When to Re-Drop