Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ask Linda #1626-Knock sand off clubface in bunker

Hi Linda,
I have a question regarding a situation that arose during a match play round I was playing at the weekend.

Playing a par 4 my opponent hit his approach shot pretty close to the pin. I hit mine into a greenside bunker. The bunker was very wet and the ball came to rest in a puddle. I took a drop in the bunker at the nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole, and played my bunker shot but failed to get out and the ball rolled back into the puddle to exactly the point it was originally. I took another drop in the same spot as previously but as I went to play my shot I noticed there was a big lump of wet sand on my clubface. Absentmindedly I banged the club onto the wet compacted sand to knock off the lump of sand, then played the bunker shot, got the ball out but didn’t hole it so conceded the hole to my opponent.

My question is: Would I have incurred a penalty for banging my club on the sand to knock off the clump of sand? I had already played a shot from the exact same spot so I don’t see how I could be accused of testing the sand or trying to gain some advantage. I didn’t improve my line of play. I don’t think I committed a foul but I have no doubt that had I holed my second bunker shot my opponent would have made a claim and I would have conceded the hole just to keep things friendly.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Lou from the UK

Dear Lou,

A player is not permitted to touch the ground in the bunker prior to hitting his ball that lies in the bunker [Rule 13-4b]. The penalty in match play is loss of hole (two strokes in stroke play). Absentmindedness is unforgivable under the Rules of Golf.

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