Four things to remember before you drop…

You just splashed one into a water hazard, and now you’re making that slow, painful march over to the drop zone to proceed under a one-stroke penalty. The last thing you want to do is make things worse with a procedural error from this spot. So don’t forget these key points.

1. The course’s committee has to enact a Local Rule designating a drop area. Don’t assume every hole with water has one. Look near the hazard for a drop zone, which is typically a circle labeled “Drop Zone” or “DZ” (above).

2. It’s usually not mandatory to use. It’s just another option when hitting into a water hazard.

3. You don’t have to stand in the zone when dropping, but the ball must first land within its boundary. That includes the line that marks the area. If the ball rolls closer to the hole than where it struck the course, or even outside of the drop zone, it’s OK provided that it comes to rest within two club-lengths of the spot where it first landed, and not in any other position covered by Rule 20-2c (when to re-drop). And to reiterate, the ball doesn’t necessarily have to stay inside
the drop circle.

4. A drop zone cannot be designated on the green side of a water hazard for shots that fail to clear it. That means you can’t plunk one in the water and then head to the other side.

Golf Rules Illustration

Pop Quiz


Q: You elect to use a drop zone after hitting a tee shot into a water hazard. However, your next shot lands in the same water hazard. Can you then choose another water-hazard option for your next shot, or do you have to play again from the same drop zone?

A: Good news: You have several choices under Rule 26-1. The bad news? They all come with a penalty stroke.