Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ask Linda #959-Improving bunker (corrected)

Dear readers,

Please disregard the original Ask Linda #959 and read the correction below:

Hi Linda,
Thanks for your excellent info on the rules for golf.
Here some questions from our senior teams:
- Just after starting play, may one rake a bunker even when his ball in not in the bunker (obviously to test the general sand conditions or just to improve the bunker before chipping over the bunker)?
- When declaring a ball unplayable in a bunker, may one first rake the bunker (to restore the player’s own marks but also to improve the whole) before returning to take a new shot (one never knows if the new shot will land in the same bunker)?
- When a ball comes to rest inside a rabbit hole in a bunker and is unplayable, is there any free relief?

Thanks for your advice.
Lou from Belgium

Dear Lou,

When a player’s ball lies outside a bunker, he is permitted to smooth the sand in a bunker, provided his reason is to care for the course and he does not improve his line of play [Rule 13-2; Decision 13-2/28]. 

The same holds true for a ball that is declared unplayable in a bunker. The player may not rake his footprints if doing so would improve his lie, the area of his intended stance or swing, or his line of play [Rule 13-4; Decisions 13-4/35.7 and /35.8].

A rabbit hole is an abnormal ground condition. The player is entitled to free relief if he drops the ball in the bunker [read Rule 25-1b (ii) (a) for an explanation of where to drop the ball]. If he drops outside the bunker on the line-of-sight to the hole, the penalty is one stroke [Rule 25-1b (ii) (b)].

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