Know the Rules: Bunkers

Hazards are special places with rules of their own, designed to make sure they remain hazards even in unusual circumstances. These are the things you can and cannot do in a bunker. The rule reference is in parentheses.

– First and foremost, you may not touch the ground with your hand or the club (13-4).
– You may not touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard. (13-4).
– You may not test the condition of the hazard (13-4).


Provided nothing is done that constitutes testing the condition of the hazard or improves the lie of the ball, there is no penalty if the player (a) touches the ground or loose impediments in any hazard or water in a water hazard:
– as a result of or to prevent falling,
– in removing an obstruction,
-in measuring or in marking the position of, retrieving, lifting, placing or replacing a ball under any Rule
or (b) places his clubs in a hazard. (Exception to Rule 13-4)

If you declare an unplayable lie in a bunker, your drop must also be in the bunker unless the option you choose is stroke and distance. (28)

You may remove movable obstructions (a rake, for example) without penalty. If the ball moves when you do this, you must replace the ball, without penalty. (24-1)

If your ball is covered in the sand, you may touch the sand to the extent that you can identify the ball. Once you make the identification, you must recreate the lie as nearly as you can by replacing the sand. You may leave a small part of the ball visible (12-1a). The same procedure applies to a ball covered by loose impediments (12-1b).

You may rake a bunker at any time provided that it is done to care for the course in general and is not done to affect the play of a shot from the bunker. (13-4) Best to wait until after you hit, then rake the bunker.

The penalty for breach of these rules is two strokes.

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