How to Score Golf Penalty Shots

Part of the Golf For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Penalty shots (and their effects on the score) are an unfortunate part of golf for most golfers. Scoring golf penalty shots can be confusing, so the following table helps you adjust your score and shoot on.

Penalty How to Score and Continue Play
Out-of-bounds Two-stroke penalty (the stroke you hit plus one penalty stroke). Drop a ball where you last shot from and continue play.
Whiff Count each time you swing in an effort to hit the ball.
Unplayable lies One-stroke penalty. Drop the ball (no nearer the hole) within two club lengths of the original spot; drop the ball as far back as you want, keeping the original spot between you and the hole; or return to the point from which you hit the previous shot.
Water hazard (yellow stakes) One-stroke penalty. Play a ball from its original position. Play from as close as possible to the spot from which you played the previous shot. Or drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the hazard between the hole and the spot where you drop the ball, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard you drop it. Alternately, play the ball as it lies without grounding the club for no penalty.
Lateral water hazard (red stakes) One-stroke penalty. Play a ball from its original position. Drop a ball outside the hazard within two club lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard (but no nearer the hole), or within two club lengths from a point on the opposite edge of the water hazard equidistant from the hole. Alternately, play the ball as it lies without grounding the club for no penalty.
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