Rules Guy: What do I do if my ball lands in water from a pond that overflowed?

Ball in puddle

If a rainstorm causes a pond or lake to overflow, do the boundary lines of the penalty area change too?

Fred Vuich

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

I recently played a round of golf following a powerful rainstorm. On one hole, a pond overflowed by six feet. Unfortunately, my ball landed five feet from the pond’s normal edge and sat in three inches of water. Do I get a free drop for casual water or a penalty?
—Richard Wolf, via email

Golfers looking for balls

Rules Guy: If you hole out your provisional ball, can you abandon your original?

By: Rules Guy

Richard, in terms of good fortune, truly your cup runneth over.

Any water that has overflowed the edge of the penalty area, whether it’s defined by stakes or lines, is treated as temporary water, so you do indeed get to take free relief. Squish onward!

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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