Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ask Linda #1060-Unplayable in bunker after several attempts to get out

Dear Linda,
This happened today. Par 5. Player knocked the ball into a small (maybe 5 feet diameter) circular pot bunker by the green. It was maybe 2 -3 feet deep with side walls straight up. After three failed attempts to get it out he wanted to play it unplayable and drop outside the hazard. I told him: “You can play it as unplayable and take the penalty but must drop in the hazard.” Unfortunately for him there really wasn't much of an area to drop which created a better escape from the bunker. Was he doomed to keep hitting from the bunker until he got out (which he did), or can he drop outside the bunker with a 2-stroke penalty???
Thank you,
Lou from North Carolina 

Dear Lou,

Basically, the player is doomed.

When a player decides to deem his ball unplayable in a bunker he has three choices, all of which include a one-stroke penalty:

1. Play a ball under stroke and distance (the only option that might get the player out of the bunker – more on this shortly).
2. Drop a ball in the bunker on the line-of-sight to the hole.
3. Drop a ball in the bunker within two club-lengths of where the ball lay, no closer to the hole.

Ordinarily, the shot that puts the ball in the bunker comes from outside the bunker, so playing a ball under stroke and distance will put the next shot outside the bunker. However, this player attempted to hit the ball from the bunker. Playing under stroke and distance would require that the ball be dropped in the bunker, since that was where he hit his previous shot.

Pot bunkers are notoriously dangerous. Sometimes the sensible escape (stroke and distance) is the wisest choice. Think before you flail!

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