Rules Topic – Penalty Area Options
Penalty areas are one of the five defined areas of the course and can be marked as either red or yellow. When your ball lies in a penalty area, you can play it as it lies or take relief outside the penalty area for one penalty stroke. For either red or yellow penalty areas, you can play from where your last stroke was made (stroke and distance) or take back-on-the-line relief by going back as far as you’d like on the line between the hole and where your ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area. In a red penalty area, you have one additional relief option, which is to take lateral relief within two club-lengths of where your ball crossed into the penalty area.
When playing a shot from a penalty area, you can remove any detached natural or artificial object (known as loose impediments and movable obstructions), ground your club behind the ball, or take practice swings that touch the ground. However, there are a few restrictions. You can’t deem your ball unplayable or take relief from abnormal course conditions (such as a bridge or sprinkler control box). If you need relief, you can play under the penalty area relief options discussed above. You also are not allowed to play a provisional ball when you think your ball will be lost in a penalty area.
Rule 17 – Penalty Areas
Purpose of Rule: Rule 17 is a specific Rule for penalty areas, which are bodies of water or other areas defined by the Committee where a ball is often lost or unable to be played. For one penalty stroke, you may use specific relief options to play a ball from outside the penalty area.
17.1 Options for Your Ball in Penalty Area
a. When Your Ball Is in Penalty Area
b. You May Play Ball as It Lies in Penalty Area or Take Penalty Relief
You may either play the ball as it lies without penalty or play a ball from outside the penalty area by taking penalty relief.
Exception – Relief Must Be Taken from Interference by No Play Zone in Penalty Area.
c. Relief for Your Ball Not Found but in Penalty Area
d. Relief for Your Ball in Penalty Area
e. Relief Must Be Taken from Interference by No Play Zone in Penalty Area
In each of these situations, your ball must not be played as it lies:
17.2 Options After Playing Your Ball from Penalty Area
a. When Your Ball Played from Penalty Area Comes to Rest in Same or Another Penalty Area
Or, for one penalty stroke, you have the relief options shown in Diagram #1 17.2a and Diagram #2 17.2a.
b. When Your Ball Played from Penalty Area Is Lost, Out of Bounds or Unplayable Outside Penalty Area
17.3 No Relief Under Other Rules for Your Ball in Penalty Area
Your only relief option is to take penalty relief under Rule 17.
- How do I take relief from a yellow or red penalty area?
- May I remove loose natural objects in a penalty area?
- Is my club allowed to touch the ground in a penalty area?
- My ball is still in the penalty area after a stroke from the penalty area – what are my options?
- May I remove a penalty area stake?
- May I take relief from a bridge, sprinkler control box or other immovable artificial object when my ball is in a penalty area?
- May I play a provisional ball if I think my ball is in a penalty area?
- May I decide my ball is unplayable when it is in a penalty area?
- What is a no play zone?
- Video – Procedure for Taking Lateral Relief
- Video – Procedure for Taking Back-on-the-Line Relief
- Video – Areas the Committee May Mark as Penalty Areas
- Video – Touching Loose Impediments or Ground in a Penalty Area