During COVID, many adaptations were made relating to play in bunkers and those adaptations may have left us confused about the rules relating to bunkers.  Please note …. All the COVID rules are now gone, and we are back to the official rules of golf!!!

Here is what you CAN do if your ball is in the bunker:

  1. Remove loose impediments such as pinecones, sticks, or leaves, etc.
  2. Remove moveable obstructions in the bunker such as a rake
  3. Make a practice swing without touching the sand
  4. Place rake, clubs, or equipment in the bunker or use a club to steady yourself as you enter the bunker
  5. Dig your feet in to take a stance
  6. Smooth the bunker in areas not adjacent to the ball or line of flight
  7. Declare an unplayable lie and drop your ball within 2 club lengths for 1 stroke penalty
  8. Take back on the line relief and drop a ball in the bunker as far back as desired (1 stroke penalty)
  9. Take back on the line relief and drop a ball OUTSIDE the bunker as far back as desired (2 stroke penalty)
  10. Take stroke and distance relief and go back to where the previous shot was made counting the stroke into the bunker and 1 penalty stroke for going back

 Here is what you CANNOT do if your ball is in the bunker before making your stroke:

  1. Deliberately touch the sand with hand, club, rake, or other object to test the condition of the sand
  2. Touch the sand in the bunker with a club right in front of or right behind the ball
  3. Make a practice swing that touches the sand
  4. Touch the sand with the club in the backswing of making a stroke
  5. Touch or move the sand or the ball in any way which might improve the conditions affecting your stroke unless taking relief from unplayable lie, abnormal course condition (like casual water), immoveable obstruction or integral object (like a drain or stairs inside the bunker).

It is very frustrating when your ball lands in the bunker in a footprint or other area that has not been cared for by fellow players but unfortunately that is called “the rub of the green” and there is no relief.

So, in the spirit of good sportsmanship and care for the course, smooth your areas of disruption in the bunker and at least one other area that has been neglected by another player.  We all will be thankful for your good deeds!!

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