Monday, November 14, 2011

Ask Linda #374–Balls touching in bunker

Dear Linda,

Recently I played a shot into a bunker where my ball came to rest touching my partner's ball. Subsequently I marked my ball a club length away with a tee in the sand and allowed my partner to clear her ball out of the bunker first. Before replacing my ball and playing my shot, I racked the sand to flatten the surface. I placed my ball back on its original spot (not dropping it from shoulder height) and then hit my shot.

I wonder whether in doing so I have improved my lie, as the sand was wet and hard until I raked it, which helped to loosen the sand and gave me an easier shot to handle. Did I breach any rules and would there be an appropriate way to resolve such a scenario?

Please kindly advice.


Dear Lou,

When you lift a ball out of a bunker because it interferes with another golfer’s play, and his shot subsequently alters your lie, you are required to re-create that lie as well as you can and place the ball in that lie [Rule 20-3b (iii)].

It would appear from your narrative that you improved your lie. The penalty for doing so is two strokes (loss of hole in match play).

When it is clear that another player’s shot is going to alter the lie of a ball you were asked to lift, you should make careful note of your lie and request that a fellow competitor or opponent observe your procedure. In your situation, you should have filled in the hole made by your partner’s stroke, tamped it down to restore the hard surface, and placed your ball on the spot where it originally lay.

If the two balls had not been in a bunker, then you would place your ball in a similar lie within a club-length and no closer to the hole.

Logic should dictate that the Rules of Golf would not permit you to improve the lie of a ball that you were required to lift and replace. You should also know that this is a situation where you are not permitted to clean the ball. Lift and hold it carefully between two fingers and do not drop it into your pocket.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.