Friday, May 12, 2017

Ask Linda #1529-Raking footprints in bunker on way to ball

Hi Linda,
Exception #2 to Rule 13-4 states a player at any time may smooth the sand in a bunker provided it is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to improve the intended stance or swing.
My question is: 
May a player bring a rake into the bunker, drag it behind her to remove her footprints because she plans on exiting the bunker from the opposite side (she has no intention of testing the sand, but there was no rake close to where her ball lay), so to save time she planned on exiting the bunker closer to where her ball lay—to save time she raked her footprints as she approached her ball? 
I say she can do this as her intention is not to test the sand but to save time, but my Professional disagrees. (I say, if we had more rakes, this wouldn’t even come up!)  I have read Rule #13 and all the Decisions, and I still think I am right!
Hope you can clarify this for me. I enjoy your posts and follow you closely.
Lulu from Naples, Florida

Dear Lulu,

Exception #2 to Rule 13-4 allows players to smooth sand in the bunker at any time, provided the sole purpose for doing so is to care for the course, and nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to their next stroke.

One of the reasons this Exception was put in the Rules was to save time, and it most assuredly allows you (indeed, encourages you) to rake the footprints you make on the way to your ball when you plan to exit on the other side of the bunker.

The safest way to do this is to rake behind you as you are walking to your ball, and then lay the rake down when you are in the vicinity of your ball, perhaps 10 feet away. You don’t want to do any raking near the ball; you are not permitted to improve the area of your intended stance or swing or the line of play (this is what is meant by breaching 13-2 with respect to your next stroke).

I assume you shared the Rule and several related Decisions with your misinformed club pro. Since the printed word has not swayed him, why don’t you suggest that he call the USGA and discuss this question with a Rules official? This is an important concept for a pro to understand.

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