We play golf in (almost) any weather and the rules need to take this into account. While we can get puddles on the course at any time of year, we are perhaps more likely to need to cope with them through the winter months – what relief is available?
Playing out of a puddle should not be part of the normal challenge of playing golf and so Temporary Water (formerly known as casual water) is defined as an Abnormal Course Condition. Dew and Frost are not temporary water and it is not enough for the ground to be merely wet, muddy or soft – the accumulation of water needs to be more than temporarily visible i.e. remain present before or after the stance is taken.
An overflow from a body of water is considered to be temporary water even though the body of water itself would still constitute a penalty area. Snow and natural ice (but not frost) are unusual in that they can be considered to be either temporary water or loose impediments at the player’s option. Manufactured ice is man made and is therefore an obstruction.
Don’t forget that you don’t need to find your ball in the temporary water if it is known or virtually certain that your ball is lost within that temporary water. In this case you will need to use the estimated point where your ball last crossed the edge of the abnormal course condition to find your nearest point of relief.
After severe rain some bunkers can be completely filled with water, or if not, there may be no point of complete relief within the bunker and further from the hole – what do we do in this case?
It is unfortunate if you go in a bunker and it is simply not possible to get the ball in a playable position anywhere in the bunker – the only option then is to take back on the line relief under penalty of 1 stroke (Rule 16.1c) or stroke and distance (Rule 18.1)