ASK DAVE: Yellow and red hazard markers

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This is the first of a new rules' column by New Zealand Golf rules expert Dave Mangan. Dave is the General Manager of Championships and Golf Operations for New Zealand Golf.  Since 2013, Dave has been New Zealand Golf’s representative on the R&A rules of golf committee and was involved in the five years of discussions on the 2019 rule changes.

Readers are invited to submit questions to Golfer Pacific editor Paul Gueorgieff by email to Please ensure you explain your questions and situations clearly.

Yellow and red hazard markers

Dave: Do yellow and red hazard markers still exist under the new rules and if so are there any differences?

Answer: Under the new rules yellow and red marker pegs do still exist.  These pegs now identify what is called a penalty hazard, rather than a water hazard or lateral water hazard which was the old terminology.  With these new penalty hazards, golf clubs are now able to mark not only water carrying areas, but jungle like areas where it is very difficult to find, or play a ball from, which will hopefully speed up play.

The default for all penalty hazards will be red which give the player four options of relief, whereas, with yellow the player only has three options.  Under a yellow and red penalty area the player may play the ball as it lies, utilise stroke and distance and play from where their last shot was taken from or take back on a line relief.  Here the player drops a ball in a relief area that is based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the estimated point where the original ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area.

Under a red penalty area only the player can also take lateral relief.  In taking this relief, where the ball last crossed the edge of a red penalty area, the player may drop the original ball or another ball in this lateral relief area which is two club lengths in size.

Taking advantage of a ball near the hole

Dave:  In a fourball (doubles) match last week, one of our opposition was just off the green and the ball of the other person in the opposition was near the hole.

The first person in the opposition, off the green, quickly played his shot before we could ask the ball near the hole be marked. He knew that the ball near the hole could be to his advantage.

As it turned out it was. His ball hit his partner's ball near the hole and saved his ball going well past the hole.

First question is because the first person was off the green, could we insist his partner's ball near the hole be marked?

And if so, the second question is how far out could we insist that an opposition partner's ball be marked. Could it be 10 metres, 20 metres, 50 metres or maybe 100 metres?

Answer:  When you are playing four-ball if a ball belonging to your opposition is in a position to assist his or her partner’s ball you may ask for that ball to be lifted.  If the opposition refuse to lift the ball in a position to assist they would both receive the general penalty.  The question of how far off the green you should be to have to comply with this request goes back to common sense and whether or not it is likely to delay play.  A ball 10 -20 metres off the green could be assisted by a ball near the flag, whereas a ball 50 metres from the green is unlikely to be assisting.