Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ask Linda #711-Bunker next to lateral hazard

Hi Linda,

I enjoy very much reading your simple rules, which I get via Email.

Every time one of these issues happens there is a long discussion as to what to do. I think my interpretations are correct, but others say that the person should go back and play the shot again, which of course is an option, but not the only one and not in my opinion the best option in these cases. I cannot find such an exact case in the rules but would like to know because if this happens when the ladies of the LGPA Tour next play it would be good to be clear on the rules. 

Best Wishes,
Lulu from Malaysia

Situation: On the left of the 4th Green on KLGCC (Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club) East Course, Malaysia (LGPA plays this course each year), there is a bunker that stretches from about 10 yards before the green until a few yards, 5 say, after it. To the left of the bunker is a lake marked by red stakes (lateral hazard) but the sand in the bunker runs into the lake and the red stakes are placed in the grass before the bunker starts and after the bunker finishes. As such, a ball landing left of the green can either be in the sand in the bunker, be in the sand in the hazard as defined by the line between the two red stakes, or be in the water of the lake.

Question #1: If the ball goes into the lake, crossing the bunker, where should it be dropped? The nearest place of crossing the hazard, no nearer the hole, is in the bunker. The nearest place, no nearer the hole, to the point it crossed the hazard outside the bunker is either some 10+ yards before the green (i.e. before where the bunker starts) or 5+ yards after the green (i.e. after where the bunker finishes). If this happens we drop under penalty either before the green or after it, whichever is the closest to the hole but not nearer than where it crossed the hazard. Is this correct? That is, we do not drop in the bunker.

Answer: Your procedure is not correct. When a player’s ball lies in a lateral water hazard, one of her relief options is to drop within two club-lengths and not nearer the hole than the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard. If her ball entered the hazard through the bunker, and the two-club-length relief is in the bunker, she must drop in the bunker [Decision 26-1/2]. Ten yards in one direction or five in another are clearly not within two club-lengths. Two club-lengths are two club-lengths; there is no getting around that. If you prefer not to drop in the bunker, then choose one of the other relief options in Rule 26-1.

Question #2: If the ball is in the bunker near the edge of water that has overflowed from the hazard, or actually in water but not in the hazard, what is the rule? Basically, after rain the water line varies and often comes higher up into the bunker and outside the line between the red stakes. We play such cases as a free drop due to casual water and drop within one club-length of the nearest point of relief but in the bunker. Is this correct?

Answer: Yes. Water that overflows the lake is not casual water until it passes the margin of the hazard indicated by the red stakes. If the ball lies on the hazard side of the stakes, regardless of whether it is sitting in water or on sand, it lies in the hazard and you must proceed under the water hazard Rule [26-1].
         If your ball lies outside the hazard stakes, it is not in the hazard. You are entitled to free relief if the ball lies in water outside the hazard (this is casual water), or casual water interferes with your stance or the area of your intended swing.
         In order to get free relief, you must drop inside the bunker, at the nearest relief no closer to the hole. If complete relief is not available, you are entitled to drop in a part of the bunker no closer to the hole that offers maximum relief (e.g., where the water is more shallow) [Rule 25-1b (ii)].

Question #3: The ball is in the bunker very near the edge of the water but dry (i.e., it’s a bunker shot). To play the ball you have to stand in the water, which is in the hazard. Is the water in the hazard considered casual water and can you then take relief in the bunker? I think you can.

Answer: No. Water in the hazard is in the hazard. It cannot be considered casual water unless it lies outside the margin of the hazard (past the red stakes). If the only way to hit a ball that lies in a bunker is to stand in the water hazard, that is where you must stand. Feel free to remove your socks and shoes!

Lulu, you might skip some of the long discussions you mentioned if the Committee offered players the option of one or more Dropping Zones outside the bunker. Please read Decision 33-8/37.5.
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