I do appreciate what you do. It's wonderful to have a clearer understanding of the rules.
My question concerns Ask Linda #134 - Ball won't stay put in bunker.
It dealt with a ball resting against a rake in the bunker where there's a slope. When the rake is lifted the ball moved and couldn't be replaced. What if you mark, pick up your ball, lift the rake and are able to replace the ball where it won't move. Is this without penalty?
Our golf course, like many others, wants the rakes in the bunkers so they are out of the way of the mowers. Since the course requires the rakes in bunkers, could it be a local rule that there is no penalty?
As always thanks for your help.
Here is the correct procedure for taking relief when your ball is leaning against a rake in a bunker. First, lift the rake. If your ball does not move, simply play your next shot.
You may mark the ball before you lift the rake to remember the correct spot to replace the ball should it move, but you may not lift the ball before you lift the rake.
If the ball moves when you lift the rake, you must replace it. Most of the time this is not a problem, but if you are in the back of the bunker where it slopes toward the hole, and the sand is firm, you may find that your ball rolls closer to the hole when you try to replace it. You must try to replace it two times. If it rolls closer to the hole the second time, you must try to replace it at the nearest spot in the bunker, no closer to the hole, where it will stay put [Rule 20-3d, ii].
If there is no place in the bunker that is no closer to the hole where you can place your ball and get it to sit still (you may not press it into the sand to keep it from rolling forward), then you’re out of luck. You will have to take it out of the bunker, which will result in a one-stroke penalty. Your two choices are to play the ball under stroke and distance (hit it from where you hit your previous shot), or drop the ball on the imaginary line that starts at the hole and goes straight through where your ball lay in the bunker.
It is because of this unfortunate scenario that the USGA recommends that rakes be placed outside bunkers. However, it is not against the rules for a course to require that rakes be placed in the bunkers, so let’s consider what you as a golfer can do to help prevent ball-leaning-against-rake disasters such as the one described in Ask Linda #134.
You asked if the course could establish a local rule permitting players to take the ball out of the bunker without penalty. The answer to that is “no.” Golf courses are not permitted to write local rules that violate the rules of golf. In fact, golf courses are not permitted to write any local rule that is not described in Appendix I in the back of your rule book. There is a misconception that “local rule” means the course managers have the right to make up any rule they would like. That could not be further from the truth. If a course wishes to establish a local rule that is not described in Appendix I, or it wishes to modify a rule of golf because of unusual conditions, it must receive express authorization from the USGA.
Without the option of writing a local rule to relieve you of that one-stroke penalty, what other recourse does the golfer have on a course that requires that rakes be placed in bunkers? My suggestion would be to print a request on the scorecard that players replace rakes only in the front half of the bunkers. That would give everyone plenty of room to find a legal spot in the bunker to place a ball that moves when you lift the rake.
Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.