Monday, January 19, 2015

Ask Linda #982-Ball trapped by rake in bunker

Hi Linda,

From the tees, I watched my ball roll into a fairway bunker. It appeared to first enter, then roll up the face and out, over and past; Happy days! After a few minutes looking for my ball on the top, over and past the bunker, we found the ball.

The ball was still in the bunker just below the top lip, held in place by the teeth of a rake; unplayable. Someone had previously positioned the rake at the very top-lip of the bunker (Handle out, raking end in).

The ball did indeed enter the bunker. Then it rolled up the face and out on top. Then it must have rolled back in and was caught by the teeth of the rake at the very top edge lip of the bunker. Unplayable.

To move the rake meant that my ball would also move and roll down the face of the bunker, which it did. Not knowing the rule, I moved the rake, the ball rolled down the face of the bunker and I then played it from there.

Was that correct? Or should have I declared it Unplayable and taken a penalty stroke? What were the correct options?


Dear Lou,

When you hit the ball from its new position, you played from a wrong place. In stroke play, since you did not gain any significant advantage, your penalty would be two strokes and you must finish the hole without correcting your error [Rule 20-7c]. In match play, the penalty would be loss of hole.

However, you were entitled to free relief from a movable obstruction [Rule 24-1]. Here is the proper relief procedure for a ball that is resting against a rake in a bunker:

1. Mark the spot where the ball lies, and then lift the rake.
2. If the ball moves, you must try to replace it.
3. If the ball will not remain in place, you must place it in the hazard at the nearest spot where it will stay put that is no closer to the hole [Rule 20-3d, ii]. You are not permitted to press it into the sand to keep it from rolling away [Decision 20-3d/2].

For other questions regarding a ball trapped by a rake in a bunker, please read Ask Linda #277, published in February, 2011. 

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