Thursday, 17 December 2009

Casual Water in Bunkers - Rule 25-1b(ii)

Photo - BunkerBlaster .com
Many golf courses in Western Europe have had significantly higher rainfalls than is usual for this time of year. This has raised the subject of how players should proceed when their ball lies in water-filled bunkers. Here is a question I received two weeks ago from a Committee member of a Club close to where I live in South Dublin.
“If bunkers are out of play (due to really wet conditions) where is ball played from - nearest point of relief or club length back in line where ball was originally played from. Hope you can assist me here or tell me where I can find out. I have searched the rule book but it does not specify what to do when a bunker is out of play completely.”
The first important point that I must make here is that a Committee may not take bunkers out of play just because they are waterlogged. Decision 33-8/27 states;
Q. May a Committee make a Local Rule allowing a player to drop out of any bunker filled with casual water, without penalty, contrary to Rule 25-1b(ii)?
A. No. The Committee may not make a Local Rule providing generally that flooded bunkers are ground under repair through the green as such a Local Rule waives a penalty imposed by the Rules of Golf, contrary to Rule 33-8b.
However, in conditions of extreme wetness, where certain specific bunkers are completely flooded prior to the competition commencing and there is no reasonable likelihood of the bunkers drying up during the competition, the Committee may, in such exceptional circumstances, introduce a Local Rule providing that specific bunkers, which are known to be flooded prior to the competition commencing, are deemed to be ground under repair and classified as through the green. Therefore relief may be taken outside these bunkers without penalty in accordance with Rule 25-1b(i). In a competition played over more than one round, such a Local Rule may be introduced or rescinded between rounds. (Revised)
So, what can a player do under the Rules when a bunker is completely covered by water? Decision 25-1b/8 clearly sets out that they have
three options;
"Q. If a player's ball lies in a bunker completely covered by casual water, what are his options?
A. The player may play the ball as it lies or:
(1) drop the ball in the bunker without penalty at the nearest point, not nearer the hole, where the depth of the casual water is least — Rule 25-1b(ii)(a); or
(2) drop the ball behind the bunker under penalty of one stroke — Rule 25-1b(ii)(b); or
(3) deem the ball unplayable and proceed in accordance with Rule 28.”
Note that the second option above incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be dropped outside the bunker, keeping the point where the ball lay in the water in the bunker directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the bunker the ball may be dropped.

So, if a Committee wants to take individual bunkers out of play, whether it’s because they are being renovated or because they are completely filled with water, it must introduce a Local Rule. This is the revised wording for Decision 25/13 that comes into effect from 1st January 2010;
"If a bunker is being renovated and the Committee defines the entire bunker as ground under repair, the bunker loses its status as a hazard and is automatically classified as ‘through the green’. Therefore, unless a Committee specifically states otherwise, Rule 25–1b(i) applies, not Rule 25–1b(ii). (Revised)"
Please pass this blog entry along to your Club Committee if they are having a problem as to how to deal with waterlogged bunkers.

Happy golfing, wherever you play,

Barry Rhodes
Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf'. Click here for special Christmas gift offer.


courtgolf said...

WOW !! Are mobile pumps like that legal for personal use on the course ? :-)

Great piece - thanks for all the help.

Anonymous said...

When you take a drop from casual water in a bunker are you permitted to clean the ball? If not, what is the penalty for cleaning the ball.

Barry Rhodes said...

Yes, you are permitted to clean the ball in this circumstance without penalty. However, remember that you must drop the ball in the bunker without penalty in accordance with Rule 25-1b(ii)(a), or outside the bunker under penalty of one stroke in accordance with Rule 25-1b(ii)(b).


Unknown said...

A question again on bunkers!!!
All the bunkers on a course have been declared out of play for a competition. There were no penalties incurred when removing the ball from the bunkers. Is the competion stil a 'Qualifying' competition??

Barry Rhodes said...


No! As should be clear from this blog, a Committee is not permitted to take all bunkers out of play, because the Rules of Golf deal comprehensively with options for players when bunkers contain casual water. As this is not permitted, the competition is not being run under the Rules of Golf and cannot count for handicapping purposes.