Spring golf is a great reason to brush up on causal water. What is casual water? Where can casual water be? What do I do if I'm in casual water? Review Rule 25 to prepare!
Rule 25 covers a whole a number of scenarios including casual water, ground under repair, and a cast or runway made by a burrowing animal, reptile or bird.
Casual water is any temporary accumulation of water on the course (other than a water hazard) visible before or after the player takes his/her stance. It includes snow and ice, an overflow from a water hazard if outside the bounds of the hazard and a pitchmark filled with water. Soft, mushy ground, water which appears only as a result of pressing down with your foot, dew, frost and manufactured ice are not regarded as casual water.
The rule basically provides relief to a player when his/her ball lies in or touches the area of casual water. Relief is also available if the casual water interferes with a player's stance or the area of his intended swing. Only if the player's ball and the casual water are on the putting green is a player entitled to relief if the casual water is on his line of putt.
In addition, a player may not brush away casual water from his line of play.
The player may either:
1.) Play the ball as it lies (unless the committee has made relief mandatory by a local rule).
2.) If the ball lies through the green, determine the nearest point of relief, this being the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies which avoids interference by the casual water, is not in a hazard or on a putting green and is not nearer the hole. Then lift and drop the ball without penalty within one clublength of that point. In this case, maximum relief must be taken at all times.
3.) If the ball lies on the putting green, without penalty place it at the nearest point of relief or, if maximum relief is not available, at the point affording maximum possible relief as near as possible to the original spot but not nearer the hole nor in a hazard. If the nearest point is off the putting green, the ball must be placed off the green.
4.) If the ball lies in a bunker, it may be dropped without penalty in the bunker as near as possible to the original spot but not nearer the hole and on ground which affords maximum relief from the casual water. If maximum relief is not possible, partial relief may be taken in a bunker.
5.) If the bunker is completely covered by water the ball may be dropped under penalty of one stroke outside the bunker on the extension of the line between the original spot and the hole but not nearer the hole.
Relief without penalty is not available if the casual water is within the bounds of a water hazard the player must proceed under the rule dealing with water hazards (Rule 26).
When searching for a ball in casual water, there is no penalty if the ball is accidentally moved; the ball should be replaced at the player's estimate of its original location unless the player opts to take relief under one of the options above.
And finally, the provisions of Decision 25-1c/1 should be noted. This deals with the definition of reasonable evidence. For example, an area of casual water preceded by thick rough is in a hollow not visible from the tee. A ball is hit into this area and can't be found. Is there reasonable evidence that the ball is lost in casual water? The answer is no. In this case the player must proceed under Rule 27 (Lost Ball).