Rules about Casual Water and the Portable Sprinklers on our Course.

Casual Water and the Portable Sprinklers on our Course.


A recent topic has been the question of the Rules when our ball lands close to the portable sprinklers that we are now seeing on our fairways and in the rough.

I have been asked by some of our members to clarify how we take relief from these movable obstructions and what exactly IS casual water. So let’s look at a situation you could be in on hole #9 where they regularly have dry areas to water.

Your ball lands up against a hose connected to a portable sprinkler, what are you allowed to do under the Rules of Golf?

If your ball lies in or on the hose/sprinkler head or, if the hose/head is so close to the ball it interferes with your stance or area of intended swing, this is what you can do.

Use Rule 24-1 Movable Obstructions

(i) If your ball is close so your stance or swing is interfered with:

You may move the hose or the attached sprinkler head, if the ball moves in the process; it must be replaced without penalty.

(ii) If your ball comes to rest in or on the hose/sprinkler head then, without penalty, the ball may be lifted, the hose removed, and the ball dropped as near as possible to the spot directly underneath the place where the ball lay in or on the hose, but no nearer the hole.

Now let’s take the situation where your ball rolled close to the sprinkler, but your stance and intended swing are not affected but water is spraying out over the area where your ball lies. Do you get relief from Casual water and what exactly IS casual water eh?

Casual Water: Casual water is any temporary accumulation of water on the course that is not in a water hazard and is visible before or after the player takes his stance.

You would get free relief if a temporary accumulation of water is seen around your ball before or after you take your stance or the ball is touching the casual water.

The only way you could get relief for your ball being “sprinkled” upon is if there was enough water in the area for it to be deemed “Casual water”. You ball would need to be lying in a visible puddle of water, or water must be visible around your ball or feet without you pressing them down. Just because water is spraying it does not mean it’s accumulating!

Here is an excellent explanation from the Decisions book:


Water Visible as Result of Undue Effort with Feet

Q. In a wet area, casual water is not visible before or after the player takes his normal stance. However, by pressing down hard with one foot, the player causes water to appear around the sole of his shoe. Is the player entitled to relief under Rule 25-1b?

A. No. Water visible through undue effort with the feet is not casual water – see Definition of “Casual Water.”

Think about it, why should you get relief if it’s not Casual water eh? If it was raining and your ball was being rained on you would have to play it as it lies, right?

If you move your wet ball, and it is not in casual water, you will be penalized two strokes.

As much as it’s a nuisance, the sprinkler water is keeping our course greener and a little sprinkled water does not hurt you or your ball.

Play the ball as it lies. Follow the Rules!

I hope this helps you,



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