Rule of the Month: Sand Saves
Bunkers are meant to test a player’s ability to play a ball from the sand. While some prohibitions have been relaxed regarding bunkers, a player is still restricted from learning information about the sand by intentionally testing it prior to a stroke. A bunker is defined as a specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. Also included in the definition is a list of things on the course that are not part of the bunker, which is important when determining the area of the course the ball lies in. This information could change relief procedures and/or restrictions when playing the ball as it lies.
Test your knowledge on bunkers with the following questions.
- A ball is considered in a bunker when it is inside the edge of the bunker and touching sand or on ground where sand would normally be. Additionally, such a ball resting on a loose impediment or movable obstruction that touches sand in the bunker is also in the bunker.
- Loose impediments lying in or touching the same bunker in which the ball lies must not be touched or moved prior to the stroke.
- A player is not allowed to lean on a club that touches the sand in a bunker.
- A player must not deliberately touch the sand in a bunker with a hand, club or rake to test the condition of the sand.
- Sand in a bunker may be smoothed prior to the stroke provided the smoothing is done for the care of the course and the conditions affecting the stroke are not improved.
- The player’s club may touch sand in the bunker during the backswing for a stroke provided the stroke is then completed.
- Extra clubs taken into a bunker may be placed on the sand without penalty.
- After making a stroke in a bunker and failing to get the ball out, a player slams his or her club into the sand in frustration. The player gets the general penalty of loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.
- Under two penalty strokes, a player may declare their ball unplayable in a bunker and using the back-on-the-line option may drop outside the bunker.
- If a ball comes to rest against a rake in a bunker, the rake may be removed and if the ball moves the player must play the ball from its new location.
- True. Rule 12.1. In the past, this has been a source of confusion and has often resulted in a player proceeding incorrectly. Now defined in the Rule itself, a ball is in a bunker when any part of the ball touches sand on the ground inside the edge of the bunker or rests on ground where sand normally would be. Additionally, if a ball lies inside the edge of a bunker and on a loose impediment (leaf), movable obstruction (towel) or an abnormal course condition (drain grate) that touches sand in the bunker, it is considered in the bunker.
- False. Rules 12.2a. and 15.1b. Loose impediments may be removed anywhere on or off the course. Caution should be exercised when moving a loose impediment in a bunker. If the removal of a loose impediment causes the ball to move, the player would get one penalty stroke and must replace the ball.
- False. Rule 12.2b(2). Provided that the leaning on the club is to rest, stay balanced or prevent a fall, there is no penalty. If the intention of the player was to test the condition of the bunker or the action improved the conditions affecting the stroke, he or she would incur a penalty.
- True. Rule 12.2b(1). Touching the sand in a bunker with a hand, club or rake to test the condition of the sand is a penalty. A player is permitted to touch the sand for other reasons such as smoothing the sand but must not improve the conditions affecting the next stroke. Additionally, a player is not allowed to touch the sand with a club in the area right in front of or right behind the ball.
- True. Rule 12.2b(2). A player may rake footprints as he or she approaches the ball provided the conditions affecting the stroke are not improved and the raking is not for the purpose of learning information about the sand, i.e., testing.
- False. Rule 12.2b(1). The player’s club must not touch the sand right in front of or right behind the ball prior to the stroke. The back swing for a stroke is not part of the stroke as a stroke is defined as the forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.
- True. Rule 12.2b(2). A player may take several clubs into a bunker and place any extra ones on the sand without penalty provided the placing of the extra clubs doesn’t improve the conditions affecting the stroke.
- False. Rule 12.2b(2). Since this action is not to test the condition of the sand and provided the conditions affecting the stroke are not improved, there is no penalty. Caution should also be exercised to prevent the action from causing the ball to move and incurring a penalty.
- True. Rule 19.3b. For two penalty strokes, a player may declare their ball unplayable in a bunker and make their next stroke from outside the bunker using the back-on-the-line option. This involves keeping the hole in line with where the ball is unplayable and backing up as far as the player would like. While this option allows the player to make their next stroke from outside the bunker, the bunker will still be between the ball and the hole.
- False. Rule 15.2a(1) If the player’s ball moves while he or she is removing a movable obstruction (rake), there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced on its original spot. If the ball will not remain on the original spot, Rule 14.2e requires the player to attempt replacing it a second time on the spot. If the ball again will not stay on the spot, the player is required to place the ball in the nearest spot where it will stay at rest but not nearer the hole than the original spot and in the same bunker.