You must not touch the loose impediment on your backswing
– Rule 13-4c
…the player must not: …Most of us are aware that the above Rule means that we cannot touch the sand with our club before making a stroke from the bunker. So, we correctly hover our club a little above the sand when preparation for our shot. But, here are some related facts that you may not be aware of for when your ball lies in a bunker;
b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club
• You may not touch any sand in the bunker on your backswing before making your stroke (Decision 13-4/31). This can sometimes be very difficult when your ball lies at the back of a steeply-sloped bunker. It might even mean playing out sideways or backwards to avoid the penalty of two strokes or loss of hole.
• You may not touch any loose impediments in the bunker with you club other than when you make your stroke, which commences with the forward motion of the club made with the intention of striking the ball. Loose impediments are anything natural, including divots, loose moss, leaves, twigs, stones, etc. (Rule 13-4c). Of course, you may touch stones if there is a Local Rule permitting the removal of stones from bunkers. You may also move loose impediments in order to find or identify a ball that is believed to be lost in a bunker, but they must be replaced if the ball is found or identified in that bunker (Rule 12-1b).
• But, you may touch any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing with your club at any time, including on the backswing preceding your stroke (Note to Rule 13-4). So, if your ball lies at the back of a bunker and you cannot make your stroke without brushing growing grasses that overhang the lip of the bunker with your club, there is no penalty for doing so, either with a practice swing or your actual stroke.
• Providing you do nothing to test the condition of the bunker, or any similar hazard;
- no penalty is incurred if you touch the sand or loose impediments in a bunker as a result of or to prevent falling, (Exception 1.(a) to Rule 13-4);
- you may touch the sand in a bunker when removing an obstruction (e.g. a rake), in measuring or in marking the position of, retrieving, lifting, placing or replacing a ball under any Rule (Exception 1.(a) to Rule 13-4);
- you may lay a club, or clubs, in a bunker whilst you are playing out of it (Exception 1,(b) to Rule 13-4).
• You do incur a penalty if you casually lean on your club in the hazard while waiting for another player to play (Decision 13-4/2).
• There is no penalty if you accidentally touch your ball with your club, providing it does not move (Decision 13-4/12).
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.
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