RULE: BUNKER BLUES

His Veteran golfer mate said, "Touch the sand in the bunker with your club as you remove the rake and I will penalise you two strokes". Now we know the  Vet golfer knows everything abut the rules, so he must be right, right???

Well, he could be playing Vets Rules - let's see what the Royal and Ancient has to say in the Rules of Golf.

Richard told me if you use your club to ‘pick up’ the rake from a bunker before playing your bunker shot, and touch the sand, that’s a two stroke penalty. He was advised by his mate that this  constitutes “testing  the condition of the bunker”.  

Definitions calls a bunker or a water hazard a “hazard

Rule 13 BALL PLAYED AS IT LIES  says that before you make a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (bunker or water hazard), you must not test the condition of the hazard; you must not touch the ground in a hazard or water  in a water hazard with your hand or a club; nor can you touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touch a hazard.

So Richard’s mate is right so far. But wait – there’s more!

The Rule 13 goes on to list some exceptions to the preceding!

Providing nothing is done that could constitute testing the condition of the hazard, or improves the lie of the ball in the hazard, there is NO PENALTY if you touch the ground or loose impediment in the hazard while removing an obstruction! The rake left in the hazard is a movable obstruction!

These exceptions also negate the two stroke penalty if you touch the ground in the hazard as a result of or to prevent yourself falling (as you get older, this is not only possible but probable!!), or in measuring or marking the position of , lifting or replacing  your ball in a hazard as permitted under any rule. AND you may place your clubs in a hazard before playing the shot! SWEET!

Interestingly, the exceptions go on to say that you can, at any time, smooth the sand or soil in a hazard PROVIDED this is for the sole purpose of caring for the course AND nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2: improving your lie, area of intended stance or swing, or your line of play for your next stroke.

That part of the rule is open to interpretation (especially by your titchy opponent) and I reckon a bit risky a habit to cultivate. Be safe, not sorry!

RULE 13 has some other interesting exceptions – why not read them and dazzle your titchy mate!

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