Rule of the Month: A Day At The Beach | Oregon Golf Association

Rule of the Month: A Day At The Beach

By OGA Senior Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
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Parts of the Course:  Bunkers

A warm sandy beach is a great place to spend the day. But not so much fun if the warm sand is a bunker on a golf course. Yet, often times we find that our ball seems to be seeking its own sandy beach as we find ourselves playing from bunkers way more often than we would like. Not only is a stroke from a bunker often problematic, but applying the rules concerning bunkers can be every bit as difficult. Under the rules, bunkers fall into the category of hazards, but the rules treat a bunker much differently than they do a water hazard. This month, we are going to test your bunker knowledge. And as a good place to start, please note that the phrase “sand trap” does not appear anywhere in the Rules of Golf – “bunker” is the correct phase.

Questions:  True / False

  1. The margin of bunkers extend both upwards and downwards.
  2. A large bunker has several grass covered islands of ground within the margin of the bunker.A ball lying on one of these islands is deemed to lie in the bunker.
  3. The two types of bunkers are sand and grass.
  4. A ball must touch the sand to be considered in the bunker.
  5. Only one option of Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) may allow a player to drop outside the bunker when declaring his ball unplayable in a bunker.
  6. Stones lying near the ball in a bunker must not be removed.
  7. A player’s ball comes to rest in a bunker against a rake. The rake may be moved and if the ball moves it must be replaced.
  8. A player may place her clubs in a bunker prior to making a stroke.
  9. After making a stroke in a bunker a player is prohibited from raking the bunker if his ball is still in the same bunker.
  10. Sand in a bunker may be touched and moved with a club or hand if the player is searching for his ball.


  1. False. Unlike water hazards and out of bounds, the margins of bunkers extend only downward.Therefore, a ball that is lodged in a tree overhanging a bunker is not considered in the bunker (Definition of Bunker).
  2. False. According to the definition of bunkers, any grass covered ground within the margin of a bunker is not part of the bunker.In the situation presented, the ball lies through the green.
  3. False. While many golfers refer to a grass covered hollow as a grass bunker, the Rules of Golf do not acknowledge them as such.Any grass covered hollow is simply through the green, unless it’s within a water hazard.A bunker is defined as a hollow from which turf, i.e., grass, has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.
  4. False. While it is true that the margin does not extend upwards, and it would seem that a ball must be touching the sand to be in the bunker, there are parts of a bunker that may not be covered with sand.For instance, a wall or lip of the bunker that is bare earth is considered part of the bunker.Therefore, a ball may touch only dirt and still be in the bunker (Definition of Bunker).
  5. True. If the previous stroke was made from outside the bunker, the player may proceed under the stroke and distance option of Rule 28 and play again from the previous spot. The other options, dropping within two club-lengths or the straight line option of keeping where the ball lie between the hole and where the drop is, require the ball to be dropped in the bunker.
  6. True. Stones of any size are loose impediments and must not be touched or moved when the player’s ball lies in the same bunker.However, the Rules allow a Committee to enact a Local Rule allowing their removal by deeming them to be movable obstructions (See the definition of loose impediments and Rule 13-4).
  7. True. Rule 24 allows the removal of any movable obstruction (rake) in the bunker without penalty. If the ball moves as a result of the removal of the obstruction there is no penalty, provided the movement of the ball was directly attributable to the removal of the obstruction.The ball must be replaced.If the player fails to replace and makes a stroke at the ball from its new location, he has played from a wrong place and incurs a penalty.
  8. True. While Rule 13-4 prohibits a player from touching the ground in a hazard with a club, Exception 1 of the same Rule allows a player to place her clubs in the hazard without penalty.Therefore, a player may carry several clubs into the hazard before deciding which club to use.The extra clubs may simply be placed within the bunker without penalty, provided nothing is done that would constitute testing the condition of the hazard.
  9. False. If the player’s ball remains in the bunker after a stroke, he may rake the bunker provided he does so for the sole purpose of caring for the course and he does not breach Rule 13-2 by improving the area of his lie, stance, swing or line of play for his next stroke.See Rule 13-4 Exception 2.
  10. True. Under Rule 12-1a, sand may be touched and moved in order to find or identify a ball.If the ball is moved during this process, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced and the lie of the ball re-created.

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