Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ask Linda #247-Waste bunkers

Hi Linda,
At our golf course we have four waste bunkers, but before they were declared waste bunkers they were ordinary sand bunkers.
#1- Does a waste bunker have to be at ground level, or may it have a lip like a regular sand bunker?
#2- Are we allowed to move a ball in a waste bunker if it is too close to the lip and no shot is possible, or do we have to play it as it lies?
Thank you

Dear Lulu,

The USGA does not recognize waste bunkers. If an area filled with sand meets the definition of a bunker, then it is a bunker; if it does not, then it is defined as “through the green.” Let’s take a look at the definitions of these terms.

A bunker is defined as “a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.” In other words, if dirt has been dug out and replaced with sand, it is a bunker. Note that the presence or absence of rakes has nothing to do with whether a particular area is considered to be a bunker.

A golf course may not arbitrarily decide to call actual bunkers “waste bunkers” and allow players to get relief from footprints, move loose impediments, ground their clubs, or violate any other rules related to permissible activities in a bunker (see Rule 13-4).

If there is an area on the golf course that is naturally sandy, where no one has made a special effort to construct a bunker, then this area would be considered “through the green.” “Through the green” refers to the whole course except for the teeing ground and the putting green of the hole you are playing, and all hazards. All fairways, areas of rough, wooded areas, etc. are “through the green.” In such naturally sandy areas you would be permitted to ground your club, remove loose impediments, and otherwise engage in any activity that is permissible elsewhere “through the green.”

It sounds to me, from your question, that these so-called “waste bunkers” are actual bunkers. Whether the bunker is level with the surrounding area or has a lip is irrelevant. There is nothing in the definition of a bunker that requires that it have a lip. If turf was at one time removed and replaced with sand, then these are bunkers.

If your ball in a bunker is so close to the lip that you decide that it is unplayable, you have three choices on how to proceed[Rule 28]. Regardless of which procedure you use, you must add one penalty stroke to your score:

1. Play a ball from where you hit your previous shot. (This is the only option under which you can remove the ball from the bunker.)
2. Drop your ball behind where it lay in the bunker, straight back on the line-of-sight to the hole. There is no limit on how far back you may go, but you must drop the ball in the bunker.
3. Drop the ball in the bunker within two club-lengths of where it lay, no closer to the hole.

According to the Rules of Golf, there is no such thing as a “waste bunker.” If your ball is lying in an area that was prepared to be a bunker, then you must treat the area as a bunker and proceed accordingly.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.