Every now and then, you’ll see a tour pro pull off his shoes and socks, roll up his pants and wade into a water hazard, then splash his ball out in a shower of mud. Bill Haas’ incredible, par-saving shot at the 2011 Tour Championship is a noteworthy example.
Certain conditions must be met before considering a water shot. Next time your ball finds the edge of a hazard, analyze the situation before deciding to take a penalty drop. (Besides the following factors, you may want to consider the risk of getting wet and muddy, slipping, injuring your feet, or slowing up the group behind you.)
- The top of the ball should be above the water. Preferably, at least half the ball should be showing.
- If you were to drop, where is the nearest point of relief? (Remember, you’re adding a penalty stroke by dropping.) If a drop will put you in a tougher position than a water shot that merely gets your ball out of the hazard and onto dry land, the splash-out is worth trying.
If you’ve got a green-light situation, here’s how to play it:
- Make sure you’ve got a stable stance.
- Don’t touch the surface of the water or the ground inside the hazard (marked by yellow or red stakes or lines) with your club as you’ll incur a two-stroke penalty under Rule 13-4.
- Use a similar technique to a standard bunker shot – open stance, square clubface, focus on a spot an inch or two behind the ball and swing hard.
Remember, your main goal is to advance the ball to a spot that’s at least as good as where you could drop. That’s a stroke saved… though it could cost you a nice shirt.