Golf 101: Course Colored Stakes and Lines Explained

Golf Course Markers

It’s the first time you walk into a golf course and then you notice those colored stakes and lines here and there. You start to wonder what those colors mean and how they could affect your plays.

In this article, we are going to give light to what those stake and line colors you see around golf courses and what it would cost you should you end up crossing them while playing. The common colors of stakes and lines you would notice are the whites, yellows and reds. Let’s examine what these colors mean and the penalties involved should you end up crossing them.

The Whites

  • The white stakes on a golf course indicate out-of-bounds. That is, beyond the stakes’ nearest inside point is out-of-bounds.
  • The while lines on a golf course mean the same thing as white stakes, though an indication of out-of-bounds in a different way. That is, a white line painted on the ground where beyond it is out-of-bounds.

It is worth noting that a golf course could also use other markers as out-of-bounds indicators such as a fence.

When you go out-of-bounds, the stroke-and-distance penalty applies which means you get a one-stroke penalty and play the ball again from the previous spot. And because the nature of complying to this penalty takes time, hitting a provisional ball instead is a good alternative. More on this can be found in Rule 27.

The Yellows

  • The yellow stakes on a golf course indicate a water hazard. You could argue that a water hazard is too obvious to put a mark on, yes, but there are cases when this marking works including but are not limited to indicating a ditch as a water hazard.
  • The yellow lines on a golf course mean the same – a regular or normal water hazard.

You get a one-stroke penalty for landing your golf ball onto a water hazard. Your ball is considered in the water hazard when it touches the yellow markers or lies within the hazard.

It is also worth noting that there are two options a golfer can choose from for dealing with a one-stroke penalty due to water hazard. The first option is to play the ball from its previous spot. And the other option is to take a drop – that is dropping the ball at any point behind the hazard marker that was violated. More on water hazard rules in Rule 26.

The Reds

  • The red stakes on a golf course indicate a lateral water hazard. A lateral water hazard is different from a normal water hazard for it is lateral or it runs alongside the line of play. Simply put, a normal water hazard runs across the line of play while the lateral water hazard runs adjacent to the line of play.
  • The red lines on a golf course also indicate a lateral water hazard.

It is worth noting that a single body of water hazard could have its side marked differently depending on whether its parts run adjacent or across the line of play. That is to say a water hazard could have a yellow stake or line from one side and a red stake or line from the other side depending on its position and coverage on a golf course.

You either play your ball (if possible) or apply the one-stroke penalty and take a drop for having your ball in a lateral water hazard.

There are two options to drop a ball in this scenario. One is by dropping your ball within two club lengths of the point where the ball crosses or touches the hazard, no nearer the hole. The other is to go to the opposite side of the lateral water hazard and drop your golf ball at a spot on the hazard’s margin that is equidistant from the hole. All of these are explained in detail in Rule 26.

The next time you visit a golf course or when you visit Costa Del Sol Golf Club, you already have an understanding of what those stake and line colors mean and how they could potentially affect your plays. As always, try your best to land your ball away from those stakes and lines to avoid the dreaded one-stroke penalty and to keep your golf score as low as possible.

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  • Costa Del Sol Golf Club 100 Costa Del Sol Blvd Doral FL, 33178
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