Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Rules Nugget: Ball on movable obstruction in bunker
If your ball lies on a movable obstruction in a bunker (e.g., a rake, a hot dog wrapper, a towel), the ball is deemed to lie in the bunker, even though it is not touching the sand [Decision 13/5]. You may lift the ball, remove the obstruction, and drop the ball in the bunker as near as possible to where it lay, no closer to the hole [Rule 24-1b]. The reason you drop the ball in this situation, rather than place it, is that the ball never had a position on the ground.
The same procedure (i.e., lift ball, remove obstruction, drop ball) would be followed everywhere else on the golf course except for on a putting green, where you would place the ball.
If the ball is lying on the ground, leaning against the movable obstruction, you must replace the ball if the ball moves when you remove the obstruction (“replace” means “place,” not “drop”). In such cases, I always recommend that you mark the ball to avoid any subsequent discussion regarding whether you replaced it on the correct spot. Marking in this situation is not a requirement, but it could turn out to be a time saver.
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