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17
Penalty Areas
Purpose: 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
Penalty Areas
17.1

Options for Your Ball in Penalty Area

Penalty areas are defined as either red or yellow. This affects your relief options (see Rule 17.1d). You may stand in a penalty area to play a ball outside the penalty area, including after taking relief from the penalty area.
a

When Your Ball Is in Penalty Area

Your ball is in a penalty area when any part of it lies on or touches the ground or anything else inside the edge of the penalty area, or is above the edge or any other part of the 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

If your ball has not been found and it is known or virtually certain that it came to rest in a penalty area you may take penalty relief under this Rule. But if it is not known or virtually certain that your ball came to rest in a penalty area and the ball is lost, you must take stroke-and-distance relief.
d

Relief for Your Ball in Penalty Area

You have the relief options shown in Diagram 1 17.1d (relief for yellow penalty area) and Diagram 2 17.1d (relief for red penalty area), each for one penalty stroke. When it is known or virtually certain that a ball is in a yellow penalty area and the player wishes to take relief, the player has two options, each for one penalty stroke: (1) The player may take stroke-and-distance relief by playing the original ball or another ball from a relief area based on where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6 and Diagram 14.6). Reference Point: The spot where the player's previous stroke was made (which if not known must be estimated). Size of Relief Area: One club-length from the reference point. Limits on Relief Area: The relief area:
  • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
  • Must be in the same area of the course as the reference point.
(2) The player may take back-on-the-line relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in a relief area based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through point X. Reference Point: A point on the course chosen by the player that is on the reference line through point X (the point where the ball last crossed the edge of the yellow penalty area). There is no limit on how far back on the line the reference point may be. Size of Relief Area: One club-length from the reference point. Limits on Relief Area: The relief area:
  • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
  • May be in any area of the course except the same penalty area.
Player Notes: In choosing this reference point, you should indicate the point by using an object (such as a tee). When it is known or virtually certain that a ball is in a red penalty area and the player wishes to take relief, the player has three options, each for one penalty stroke: (1) The player may take stroke-and-distance relief (see point (1) in Diagram #1 17.1d). (2) The player may take back-on-the-line relief (see point (2) in Diagram #1 17.1d). (3) The player may take lateral relief (red penalty area only). The reference point for taking lateral relief is point X Reference Point: The estimated point where the original ball last crossed the edge of the red penalty area (point X) Size of Relief Area: Two club-lengths from the reference point. Limits on Relief Area: The relief area:
  • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
  • May be in any area of the course except the same 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:
  • When your ball is in a no play zone in a penalty area.
  • When a no play zone on the course interferes with your stance or swing for your ball in a penalty area.
See Full Rules For an explanation of the relief procedure for a no play zone in a penalty area.
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

If your ball played from a penalty area comes to rest in the same penalty area or another penalty area, you may play the ball as it lies. 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

See Full Rules For information on how to take relief when your ball played from a penalty area is lost, out of bounds or unplayable outside a penalty area.
17.3

No Relief under Other Rules for Your Ball in Penalty Area

When your ball is in a penalty area, there is no relief for interference by an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), an embedded ball (Rule 16.3), or an unplayable ball (Rule 19). Your only relief option is to take penalty relief under Rule 17.
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