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DEFINITION OF "BUNKER": GENERAL

13/1

Sand Spilling Over Margin of Bunker

Q.If sand spills over the margin of a bunker, is the sand part of the bunker?

A.No.

13/2

Status of Tree in Bunker

Q.Is a tree in a bunker part of the bunker?

A.No. Grass-covered ground within a bunker is not part of the bunker. The same principle applies to a tree. The margin of a bunker does not extend upwards.

13/3

Ball on Edge of Bunker Overhanging Sand

Q.Is a ball in a bunker if it lies on the edge of the bunker overhanging, but not touching, the sand?

A.No. The margin of a bunker, unlike that of a water hazard, does not extend vertically upwards.

13/4

Ball Completely Embedded in Lip of Bunker

Q.A player's ball is completely embedded in the vertical lip of a bunker. The lip is not grass-covered, so it is part of the bunker. Is the ball considered to be lying through the green? If so, the player would be entitled to drop the ball behind the bunker if he deems it unplayable.

A.No. An embedded ball is considered to be lying in the part of the course where it entered the ground.

Related Decisions:

16/2 Ball Embedded in Side of Hole; All of Ball Below Lip of Hole.

16/3 Ball Embedded in Side of Hole; All of Ball Not Below Lip of Hole.

25-2/5 Ball Embedded in Grass Bank or Face of Bunker.

33-8/39 Local Rule for Bunker Faces Consisting of Stacked Turf.

33-8/39.5 Local Rule Deeming Partially Grass-Covered Wall of Bunker to Be Part of Bunker.

13/5

Ball Lying on Obstruction in Bunker

Q.If a ball is lying on either a movable or an immovable obstruction in a bunker, is the ball considered to be in the bunker?

A.Yes. Although the margin of a bunker does not extend upwards, a ball lying on an obstruction in a bunker is in the bunker.

BALL PLAYED AS IT LIES: GENERAL

Decisions related to Rule 13-1:

18-2a/8.5 Ball Played from Ground Under Repair Abandoned and Relief Taken Under Ground Under Repair Rule.

20-7c/4 Competitor's Ball Played by Fellow-Competitor; Competitor Substitutes Another Ball at Wrong Place, Plays It and Then Abandons It and Plays Out Original Ball From Right Place.

IMPROVING LIE, AREA OF INTENDED STANCE OR SWING, OR LINE OF PLAY

13-2/0.5

Meaning of "Improve" in Rule 13-2

Q.Rule 13-2 prohibits a player from improving certain areas. What does "improve" mean?

A.In the context of Rule 13-2, "improve" means to change for the better so that the player gains a potential advantage with respect to the position or lie of his ball, the area of his intended stance or swing, his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole, or the area in which he is to drop or place a ball. Therefore, merely changing an area protected by Rule 13-2 will not be a breach of Rule 13-2 unless it creates such a potential advantage for the player in his play.

Examples of changes that are unlikely to create such a potential advantage are if a player:

  • repairs a small pitch-mark on his line of play five yards in front of his ball prior to making a 150-yard approach shot from through the green;
  • accidentally knocks down several leaves from a tree in his area of intended swing with a practice swing, but there are still so many leaves or branches remaining that the area of intended swing has not been materially affected; or
  • whose ball lies in thick rough 180 yards from the green, walks forward and pulls strands of grass on his line of play and tosses them in the air to determine the direction of the wind.

Examples of changes that are likely to create such a potential advantage are if a player:

  • repairs a pitch-mark through the green five yards in front of his ball and on his line of play prior to making a stroke from off the putting green that might be affected by the pitch-mark (e.g., a putt or a low-running shot);
  • accidentally knocks down a single leaf from a tree in his area of intended swing with a practice swing, but, as this was one of very few leaves that might either interfere with his swing or fall and thereby distract him, the area of intended swing has been materially affected; or
  • pulls strands of grass from rough a few inches behind his ball to test the wind, but thereby reduces a potential distraction for the player, or resistance to his club, in the area of his intended swing.

The determination as to whether a player has gained a potential advantage from his actions is made by reference to the situation immediately prior to his stroke. If there is a reasonable possibility that the player's action has created a potential advantage, the player is in breach of Rule 13-2.

13-2/1

Explanation of "Fairly Taking His Stance"

Q.Rule 13-2 states that a player must not improve the position or lie of his ball, the area of his intended stance or swing or his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole by moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable obstructions and objects defining out of bounds). An exception permits a player to do so in "fairly taking his stance." What is the significance of "fairly"?

A.Without "fairly," the exception would permit improvement of position or lie, area of intended stance or swing or line of play by anything that could be said to be taking a stance. The use of "fairly" is intended to limit the player to what is reasonably necessary to take a stance for the selected stroke without unduly improving the position of the ball, his lie, area of intended stance or swing or line of play. Thus, in taking his stance for the selected stroke, the player should select the least intrusive course of action which results in the minimum improvement in the position or lie of the ball, area of intended stance or swing or line of play. The player is not entitled to a normal stance or swing. He must accommodate the situation in which the ball is found and take a stance as normal as the circumstances permit. What is fair must be determined in the light of all the circumstances.

Examples of actions which do constitute fairly taking a stance are:

  • backing into a branch or young sapling if that is the only way to take a stance for the selected stroke, even if this causes the branch to move out of the way or the sapling to bend or break.
  • bending a branch of a tree with the hands in order to get under the tree to play a ball.

Examples of actions which do not constitute fairly taking a stance are:

  • deliberately moving, bending or breaking branches with the hands, a leg or the body to get them out of the way of the backswing or stroke.
  • standing on a branch to prevent it interfering with the backswing or stroke.
  • hooking one branch on another or braiding two weeds for the same purpose.
  • bending with a hand a branch obscuring the ball after the stance has been taken.
  • bending an interfering branch with the hands, a leg or the body in taking a stance when the stance could have been taken without bending the branch.

13-2/1.1

Player Attempts to Take Stance Fairly But Improves Line of Play by Moving Interfering Growing Object

Q.A player's ball lies under the branch of a tree. In attempting to take his stance fairly, the player improves his line of play by moving the branch with his body. Before playing, he realizes he could have taken his stance without moving the branch. He abandons his stance and the branch returns to its original position or is returned to its original position by the player. The player then approaches the ball from a different direction, takes his stance without disturbing the branch and makes his stroke. What is the ruling?

A.There is no penalty. When fairly taking his stance the player is required to take his stance in the least intrusive manner that results in the minimum improvement in the position or lie of the ball, area of intended stance or swing or line of play. However, as the branch moved as a result of the player's attempt to take his stance fairly and was returned to its original position before the stroke was made, there is no penalty. Any doubt as to whether the branch returned to its original position should be resolved against the player.

The same principle would apply to fixed artificial objects (e.g., a boundary stake) if the position or lie of the ball, area of intended stance or swing or line of play is improved as a result of the player's attempt to take his stance fairly but the object is returned to its original position before the player makes a stroke.

Related Decisions:

13-2/17 Removal of Boundary Stake Interfering with Swing.

13-2/25 Player Removes Boundary Post on Line of Play But Replaces It Before Playing.

13-2/1.5

Player Allowed to Play in Any Direction in "Fairly Taking His Stance"

Q.Decision 13-2/1 clarifies what is meant by a player "fairly taking his stance" and states that a player is not entitled to a normal stance or swing and he must accommodate the situation in which the ball is found. Does the requirement to fairly take a stance restrict the player in the stroke or direction of play he adopts?

A.No. It is a matter for the player to decide on the stroke and direction of play he wishes to adopt and he is entitled to fairly take his stance for that stroke and direction of play.

13-2/1.7

Player Having Fairly Taken Stance Changes Direction of Play

Q.A player's ball lies under a tree. The player fairly takes his stance by backing into the branches of the tree. He then decides to adopt a different direction of play and fairly takes his stance for a second time by backing into the branches of the tree from a different angle. Is this permissible?

A.Yes. A player may change his intended direction of play and re-take his stance with respect to the new stroke. However, if the taking of the original stance improved the position or lie of his ball, the area of his new stance or swing or line of play for the new stroke beyond what occurred in fairly taking the stance for the second time, he is in breach of Rule 13-2.

Related Decisions:

13-2/14 Breaking Branch Interfering with Backswing on Teeing Ground.

13-2/24 Area of Originally Intended Swing Improved by Breaking Branch; Area of Swing Finally Used Not Affected by Branch.

13-2/2

Player Who Misses Tee Shot Presses Down Irregularities Before Next Stroke

Q.In playing a tee shot A misses the ball. Before playing his next stroke, A presses down turf behind the ball. Is this permissible, since the ball is in play?

A.Yes. Rule 13-2 permits eliminating irregularities of surface on the teeing ground, whether or not the ball is in play.

13-2/3

Breaking Off Grass Behind Ball on Teeing Ground

Q.Under Rule 13-2, it is permissible to eliminate irregularities of surface on the teeing ground. Is it also permissible to break off or pull out grass growing behind a ball on the teeing ground?

A.Yes.

13-2/4

Greenkeeping Staff Member Rakes Bunker When Player's Ball Lies Therein

Q.If a member of the greenkeeping staff rakes a bunker when the player's ball lies therein and the raking improves the lie of the ball or the line of play, is the player penalized under Rule 13-2?

A.If the staff member raked the bunker on the instructions, or with the sanction, of the player, the player would incur a penalty. Otherwise, there would be no penalty.

Related Decisions:

13-2/15.5 Position of Ball Worsened When Obstruction Removed; Player Replaces Obstruction.

20-1/15.5 Lie Altered by Act of Marking Position of Ball.

23-1/10 Removal of Loose Impediments Affecting Player's Play.

13-2/4.5

Divots Replaced in Area in Which Ball Is to Be Dropped

Q.A player makes a stroke. He replaces his divot and other divots nearby. He then discovers that his ball is lost or out of bounds. The player must now drop a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which his previous stroke was made – Rule 27-1. In these circumstances, is the player in breach of Rule 13-2, which prohibits improving the area in which a ball is to be dropped by eliminating irregularities of surface by replacing a divot?

A.No. When the player replaced the divots, he was unaware that he would be required to drop a ball in the area. Therefore, in equity (Rule 1-4), he is not penalized.

However, if the player wished to play a provisional ball because he thought his original ball might be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds, he would be prohibited from replacing his or other divots in the area where he would be dropping the provisional ball.

13-2/5

Replacing or Removing Undetached Divot

Q.A player's ball comes to rest in front of a divot which is folded over but not completely detached. The divot interferes with his backswing. May the player replace or remove the divot before playing?

A.No. A divot which is not completely detached is not a loose impediment. It is something fixed and therefore its removal or replacement would be a breach of Rule 13-2 as the lie and area of intended swing would be improved.

13-2/6

Replacing Divot in Divot Hole on Line of Play

Q.A player's ball comes to rest close to the putting green and he wishes to use his putter for his next stroke. However, there is a divot hole just in front of his ball on his line of play. May the player replace the divot before playing his next stroke?

A.No. Rule 13-2 prohibits a player from improving his line of play by eliminating an irregularity of surface.

13-2/7

When Divot Replaced

Q.Under Rule 13-2 a player may not remove or press down a replaced divot. When is a divot considered replaced?

A.When substantially all of it, with the roots downwards, lies in a divot hole. The hole need not be the one from which the divot was extracted.

13-2/8

Player's Lie or Line of Play Affected by Pitch-Mark Made by Partner's, Opponent's or Fellow-Competitor's Ball

Q.A player's lie or line of play through the green is affected by a pitch-mark made by his partner's, his opponent's or a fellow-competitor's ball. Is the player entitled to relief?

A.If the pitch-mark was there before the player's ball came to rest, he is not entitled to relief without penalty.

If the pitch-mark was created after the player's ball came to rest, in equity (Rule 1-4), he may repair the pitch-mark. A player is entitled to the lie which his stroke gave him.

13-2/8.5

Player's Lie Affected by Sand from Partner's, Opponent's or Fellow-Competitor's Stroke from Bunker

Q.A's ball is on the apron between the green and a bunker. A's partner, opponent or fellow-competitor (B) plays from the bunker and deposits sand on and around A's ball. Is A entitled to any relief?

A.Yes. A is entitled to the lie and line of play he had when his ball came to rest. Accordingly, in equity (Rule 1-4), he is entitled to remove the sand deposited by B's stroke and lift his ball and clean it, without penalty.

13-2/8.7

Player's Area of Intended Stance Affected by Another Player's Stroke

Q.The balls of A and B lie near each other through the green. A plays and in doing so affects B's area of intended stance (e.g., by creating a divot hole). What is the ruling?

A.B may play the ball as it lies. In addition, if the original area of intended stance could be easily restored, in equity (Rule 1-4), the area of intended stance may be restored as nearly as possible, without penalty.

If the original area of intended stance could not be easily restored, in equity (Rule 1-4), the player may place his ball, without penalty, on the nearest spot within one club-length of the original lie that provides the most similar lie and area of intended stance to the original lie and area of intended stance. This spot must not be nearer the hole and must not be in a hazard.

Decisions related to 13-2/8 through 13-2/8.7: See "Equity: player entitled to lie, line of play and stance when ball comes to rest after stroke" in the Index.

13-2/9

Lie Through the Green Improved When Sand Behind Ball Removed by Backswing

Q.A player's ball lies in a sandy area through the green and there is a mound of sand a few inches behind his ball. The player makes his stroke and in the process he removes the mound of sand with the clubhead on his backswing, improving his lie. Is the player subject to penalty?

A.No, provided that he did not ground his club other than lightly and that he took a normal backswing.

Related Decisions:

13-2/12 Player Presses Down Sand Behind Ball in Grounding Club.

13-4/31 Touching Sand in Bunker During Backswing.

13-2/10

Pitch-Mark in Dropping Area Repaired Before Ball Dropped

Q.Through the green, a player's ball was embedded in its own pitch-mark in a closely mown area. He lifted the ball under Rule 25-2 but, before dropping it, repaired the pitch-mark. Is such repair permissible?

A.No. The player was in breach of Rule 13-2 when he improved the area in which his ball was to be dropped by eliminating an irregularity of surface.

Related Decisions:

13-2/8 Player's Lie or Line of Play Affected by Pitch-Mark Made by Partner's, Opponent's or Fellow-Competitor's Ball.

13-2/21 Area of Intended Swing Improved by Repairing Pitch-Mark Made by Ball on Previous Stroke.

13-2/11

Removing Sand or Loose Soil from Dropping Area

Q.Through the green, may a player remove or brush away sand or loose soil from the area in which he is preparing to drop a ball?

A.No. Rule 13-2 prohibits improving the area in which a ball is to be dropped by removing sand or loose soil. Sand and loose soil are loose impediments only on the putting green.

13-2/12

Player Presses Down Sand Behind Ball in Grounding Club

Q.In addressing his ball through the green, a player grounded his club on sand behind the ball and in so doing pressed down the sand, thereby improving the lie of the ball. What is the ruling?

A.Except in a hazard, Rule 13-2 permits a player to ground his club lightly behind the ball. If the club was grounded only lightly, there is no breach of Rule 13-2 or any other Rule. However, if the club was pressed on the ground, the player was in breach of Rule 13-2.

Related Decisions:

13-2/9 Lie Through the Green Improved When Sand Behind Ball Removed by Backswing.

13-4/31 Touching Sand in Bunker During Backswing.

13-2/13

Bending Grass in Removal of Loose Impediments

Q.A player whose ball was in long grass rolled a stone away from the ball, pressing down some of the long grass in the process. Was he in breach of Rule 13-2?

A.Yes, if the pressing down of the grass improved the position or lie of his ball, the area of his intended swing or his line of play.

Related Decisions:

13-2/26 Natural Object Interfering with Swing Moved to Determine Whether It Is Loose.

23-1/4 Breaking Off Part of Large Loose Impediment.

13-2/14

Breaking Branch Interfering with Backswing on Teeing Ground

Q.On the teeing ground, a player broke off a branch of a tree which was interfering with his swing. The player maintained that such action was not a breach of Rule 13-2 because his ball was not yet in play. Was the player correct?

A.No. The player was in breach of Rule 13-2 for improving the area of his intended swing. Although Rule 13-2 allows a player to eliminate irregularities of surface on the teeing ground, it does not allow him to break a branch interfering with his swing. The penalty would apply even if the player, before playing his next stroke, re-teed elsewhere on the teeing ground – see Decision 13-2/24.

Related Decision:

13-2/1.7 Player Having Fairly Taken Stance Changes Direction of Play.

13-2/14.5

Branch Broken on Backswing and Swing Discontinued

Q.A player's ball lies under a tree. The player fairly takes his stance and starts his backswing with the intention of making a stroke. Near the top of his backswing his club strikes a branch and breaks it. At that point he discontinues his swing. The breaking of the branch has resulted in an improvement to the area of the player's intended swing.

Rule 13-2 states in part: "... a player must not improve ... the area of his intended stance or swing ... except ... in making a stroke or the backward movement of his club for a stroke." Is the player exempt from penalty under this exception?

A.No, because the swing was discontinued, the backward movement of the club was not in fact the backward movement for a stroke.

13-2/15

Area of Intended Swing Improved by Removing Immovable Obstruction

Q.A player's swing is interfered with by an immovable obstruction. The player and his caddie, with great effort, remove the obstruction. Is the player subject to penalty?

A.Yes, for a breach of Rule 13-2. An immovable obstruction is something fixed. Rule 13-2 prohibits a player from improving the area of his intended swing by moving anything fixed.

13-2/15.5

Position of Ball Worsened When Obstruction Removed; Player Replaces Obstruction

Q.A player's ball comes to rest near a tree. A branch of the tree is being held back by a rope installed for gallery control. The player removes the rope (movable obstruction). This releases the branch and worsens the position of the ball. The player then re-installs the rope which results in the branch being held back as before. Was the player in breach of Rule 13-2 when he re-installed the rope?

A.Yes.

If an outside agency had removed the rope without the player's authority or sanction, the player would be entitled to re-install the rope without penalty.

Related Decisions: See "Equity: player entitled to lie, line of play and stance when ball comes to rest after stroke" in the Index.

13-2/16

Stake Supporting Tree Broken in Attempt to Remove It

Q.A stake supporting a young tree interferes with a player's stroke. He tries to remove it, but it cannot readily be removed and it breaks. As a result of the stake being broken, it no longer interferes with the player's stroke. What is the ruling?

A.The player was in breach of Rule 13-2 for breaking the stake. As the stake was not readily removable, it was an immovable obstruction and relief could have been taken, without penalty, under Rule 24-2b.

13-2/17

Removal of Boundary Stake Interfering with Swing

Q.A player removes a stake defining out of bounds which interferes with his swing. Is this permissible?

A.No. Objects defining out of bounds are fixed. Improving the position of a ball by moving anything fixed is a breach of Rule 13-2.

Related Decisions:

13-2/1.1 Player Attempts to Take Stance Fairly But Improves Line of Play by Moving Interfering Growing Object.

13-2/25 Player Removes Boundary Post on Line of Play But Replaces It Before Playing.

13-2/18

Improving Position of Ball by Bending Boundary Fence

Q.Part of a boundary fence is bowed towards the course so that it is inside the out of bounds line formed by the fence posts. A player's ball comes to rest against this part of the fence. Decision 24/4 states that the player is not entitled to drop the ball away from the fence under Rule 24-2b. May the player push back the bowed section of the fence to obtain a measure of relief?

A.No. Such action would be a breach of Rule 13-2, which prohibits improving the position or lie of his ball or the area of his intended stance or swing by moving or bending anything fixed (including objects defining out of bounds).

Related Decision:

27/18 Gate in Boundary Fence.

13-2/19

Improving Area of Intended Swing by Moving Growing or Fixed Object Situated Out of Bounds

Q.A young tree or a fixed artificial object situated out of bounds interferes with a player's swing. May the player move, bend or break the tree or fixed artificial object without penalty?

A.No. Such action would be a breach of Rule 13-2.

13-2/20

Part of Fence Off Course Leans Across Boundary and Interferes with Swing

Q.Part of a fence which is beyond white stakes defining out of bounds, and therefore not a boundary fence, leans onto the course and interferes with a player's swing. May the player push the fence back into an upright position or treat it as an obstruction?

A.Rule 13-2 prohibits improving the position of the ball by moving anything fixed, even if such thing is off the course. Therefore, the player may not push the fence back. However, that part of the fence leaning onto the course is an immovable obstruction and the player is entitled to relief under Rule 24-2b.

Decision related to 13-2/19 and 13-2/20:

24-2b/21 Interference by Immovable Artificial Object Situated Out of Bounds.

13-2/21

Area of Intended Swing Improved by Repairing Pitch-Mark Made by Ball on Previous Stroke

Q.A pitch-mark made by the ball as a result of the previous stroke interferes with a player's backswing. Before playing his next stroke, the player steps on the pitch-mark, improving the area of his intended swing. Is this permissible?

A.No. The player was in breach of Rule 13-2 which prohibits improving the area of the intended swing by eliminating irregularities of surface.

Related Decisions:

13-2/8 Player's Lie or Line of Play Affected by Pitch-Mark Made by Partner's, Opponent's or Fellow-Competitor's Ball.

13-2/10 Pitch-Mark in Dropping Area Repaired Before Ball Dropped.

13-2/22 (Reserved)

13-2/23

Shaking Water from Tree Branch Interfering with Backswing

Q.After heavy rain, a player plays a stroke that comes to rest under a tree. A branch of the tree interferes with the player's backswing. Before playing his next stroke, the player shakes the water off this branch in order to eliminate the possibility of dislodged water distracting him. Is this a breach of Rule 13-2?

A.Yes. In moving the branch, the player removed water which could have caused a distraction and thereby improved the area of his intended swing in breach of Rule 13-2.

13-2/24

Area of Originally Intended Swing Improved by Breaking Branch; Area of Swing Finally Used Not Affected by Branch

Q.A player, intending to play in a certain direction, took a practice backswing for a stroke in that direction and broke a branch impeding his backswing. The player then decided to play in a different direction. The area of his intended swing for a stroke in this new direction was not improved by the breaking of the branch. In such circumstances, would the player incur a penalty under Rule 13-2?

A.Yes. The player was in breach of Rule 13-2 as soon as he improved the area of the originally intended swing. The penalty is not avoided if he subsequently plays in another direction, even if the breaking of the branch had no effect on the area of the swing for a stroke in the new direction.

Related Decisions:

13-2/1.7 Player Having Fairly Taken Stance Changes Direction of Play.

13-2/14 Breaking Branch Interfering with Backswing on Teeing Ground.

13-2/25

Player Removes Boundary Post on Line of Play But Replaces It Before Playing

Q.A player removes a post defining out of bounds on his line of play. He realizes he has made a mistake and replaces it before playing his next stroke. What is the ruling?

A.The player was in breach of Rule 13-2 the moment he moved the post and there was nothing he could do to avoid the penalty. The replacement of the post before the next stroke was irrelevant.

Related Decisions:

13-2/1.1 Player Attempts to Take Stance Fairly But Improves Line of Play by Moving Interfering Growing Object.

13-2/17 Removal of Boundary Stake Interfering with Swing.

13-2/26

Natural Object Interfering with Swing Moved to Determine Whether It Is Loose

Q.A player cannot determine whether a long blade of grass, a twig, a tumbleweed or some similar natural object interfering with his swing through the green is loose or is attached. The player moves the object to the extent necessary to make a determination and discovers that the object is attached. What is the ruling?

A.A player is entitled to move a natural object for the specific purpose of determining whether the object is loose, provided that if the object is found not to be loose, (1) it has not become detached and (2) it is returned to its original position before the next stroke if failure to do so would result in a breach of Rule 13-2.

Except as otherwise permitted in Rule 13-2 (e.g., in fairly taking the stance), if a player moves a natural object other than to determine whether it is loose and it is found to be attached, the player cannot avoid a breach of Rule 13-2 by returning the object to its original position.

Related Decisions:

13-2/13 Bending Grass in Removal of Loose Impediments.

16-1a/11 Raised Tuft of Grass on Line of Putt Brushed to Determine Whether It Is Loose.

23-1/4 Breaking Off Part of Large Loose Impediment.

13-2/27

Probing Near Ball for Tree Roots

Q.A player's ball comes to rest through the green in such a position that he believes tree roots or rocks may be just below the surface of the ground. May he, without penalty, probe the area around his ball with a tee or the like to see if his club would strike a root or a rock in the course of making a stroke?

A.Yes, provided the lie of the ball, area of intended stance or swing or the line of play is not improved (Rule 13-2) and the ball is not moved (Rule 18-2). The same principle would apply if the player wishes to probe to determine the presence of an immovable obstruction.

13-2/28

Smoothing Irregularities in Bunker Situated Between Ball and Hole

Q.There is a bunker between A's ball and the hole. Before playing, A smoothes footprints and other irregularities in the bunker on his line of play. Was A in breach of Rule 13-2?

A.Yes, such action would improve the line of play, contrary to Rule 13-2.

Related Decision:

13-4/37.5 Player Smoothes Irregularities in Bunker After Playing Out Backwards; Smoothed Area on Line of Play.

13-2/29

Worsening and Then Restoring Line of Play

Q.There is a bunker between a player's ball and the hole. The player walks through the bunker, for example, to remove a rake on his line of play or determine the distance to the hole. On his way back to the ball, he smoothes the footprints he made, restoring his line of play to its original condition. Is such smoothing permissible?

A.No. Although Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 permits the player to smooth sand or soil in a hazard at any time for the sole purpose of caring for the course, he may not do so if it would breach Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke.

If a player worsens the lie of his ball, the area of his intended stance or swing, his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole, or the area in which he is to drop or place a ball, he is not entitled to restore that area to its original condition. If he does so, he is in breach of Rule 13-2 and incurs a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play (but see Decision 13-2/29.3).

Related Decisions:

13-4/10 Referee Enters a Bunker; Whether Player May Smooth Footprints.

13-4/11 Smoothing Footprints Made in Search for Ball in Bunker Before Playing Stroke from Bunker.

13-2/29.3

Creating Footprints in Bunker on Line of Play When Required to Enter Bunker to Retrieve Ball

Q.With reference to Decision 13-2/29, would a player be prohibited from smoothing footprints if he had been required to enter the bunker to retrieve a ball (e.g., a ball that had rolled into the bunker after having been dropped)?

A.No. In such circumstances, the player is entitled to restore the bunker to the condition it was in before he entered it.

13-2/29.5

Extension of Line of Play Affected When Opponent or Fellow-Competitor Creates Footprints in Bunker

Q.A's ball lies behind the green. The ball of his opponent or fellow-competitor (B) lies in a bunker in front of the green, which is on an extension of A's line of play.

It is A's turn to play but before he does so, B walks into the bunker to assess his next stroke, thereby creating footprints. A believes that his ball might come to rest in the bunker. Is A entitled to have the bunker restored to the condition which existed when A's ball came to rest?

A.Yes. In equity (Rule 1-4) A may have the bunker restored to its former condition because the footprints were created by B after A's ball came to rest. The bunker may be restored by anyone.

Decisions related to 13-2/29.3 and 13-2/29.5: See "Equity: player entitled to lie, line of play and stance when ball comes to rest after stroke" in the Index.

13-2/30

Testing Condition of Bunker Before Deciding Whether to Play Through It

Q.A player's ball lies behind a bunker. May he test the condition of the bunker to determine whether it is feasible to putt through it?

A.The Rules do not prohibit a player from testing the condition of a hazard except when his ball lies in or touches the hazard – see Rule 13-4. However, if such testing improved the line of play, the player would be in breach of Rule 13-2.

13-2/31

Ball Outside Bunker; Stone in Bunker on Line of Play Pressed Down or Removed

Q.A player's ball is lying behind a bunker and he decides to putt through the bunker. There is a small stone (loose impediment) in the bunker on his line of play. May he push the stone down into the sand or remove it?

A.Sand may not be pressed down if the act would improve the line of play (Rule 13-2). However, Rule 23-1 permits the removal of a loose impediment in a hazard when the ball is not lying in the hazard.

13-2/32

Improving Line of Play by Removing Stone from Wall

Q.A stone wall on the course is on A's line of play. A removes a stone from the top of the wall. Is this permissible?

A.No. The wall as a whole does not meet the definition of a movable obstruction and the individual stones are intended not to be moved. Therefore, the wall is an immovable obstruction and all parts of the wall are deemed to be fixed. In removing part of an immovable obstruction, A was in breach of Rule 13-2. The same ruling would apply if the wall had been declared an integral part of the course.

Related Decisions:

24-2b/14 Window of Clubhouse Opened and Ball Played Through Window.

24-2b/15 Opening Barn Doors to Play Shot Through Barn.

24-2b/15.3 Status of Movable Part of Drainage Hose.

24-2b/15.5 Door of Building In Open or Closed Position.

13-2/33

Outside Agency Removes Immovable Obstruction on Player's Line of Play

Q.A stake supporting a young tree has been deemed an immovable obstruction by the Committee. A player's ball comes to rest in such a position that the stake intervenes on his line of play but does not interfere with his swing or stance. At that point, an outside agency removes the stake. What is the ruling?

A.If the player allowed the outside agency to remove the stake, the player loses the hole in match play or incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play for a breach of Rule 13-2.

If the player did not know the stake had been removed, or if he knew it but was not in a position to prevent it, there is no penalty and the player may replace the stake but he is not required to do so.

Related Decisions:

23-1/10 Removal of Loose Impediments Affecting Player's Play.

33-7/7 Competitor Seeks Help from Fellow-Competitor to Avoid Penalty.

13-2/34 (Reserved)

13-2/35

Removal of Dew or Frost

Except on the teeing ground, the removal of dew or frost from the area immediately behind or to the side of a player's ball, or from a player's line of play is a breach of Rule 13-2 if such removal creates a potential advantage (see Decision 13-2/0.5).

Additionally, the removal of dew or frost from the player's line of putt is not permitted. Such action is a breach of Rule 16-1a, unless it occurs incidentally to some other action permitted under the Rules, such as in removing loose impediments, repairing ball marks on the putting green or addressing the ball.

Related Decision:

16-1a/3 Removing Dew or Frost from Line of Putt.

13-2/36

Competitor Sanctions Repair of Spike Damage on His Line of Putt by Fellow-Competitor

Q.If a fellow-competitor purposely improves the competitor's line of putt by repairing spike damage, the fellow-competitor is penalized under Rule 1-2. If the fellow-competitor's action is sanctioned, tacitly or otherwise, by the competitor, is the competitor also subject to penalty?

A.Yes, under Rule 13-2, for allowing his line of play to be improved.

Related Decisions:

16-1a/16 Spike Mark on Line of Putt Repaired During Repair of Ball Mark.

16-1c/4 Repair of Spike Mark Damage Around Hole.

13-2/37

Status of Moss or Creepers in Tree

Q.May moss, or a creeper, in a tree be removed if its removal would improve the line of play?

A.No. Trees are the natural habitat of some mosses and creepers. Accordingly, such plants growing in a tree may not be moved – see Rule 13-2.

Moss or a creeper which has fallen to the ground, and is not growing there, is a loose impediment and may be removed, without penalty – see Rule 23-1.

Other Decisions related to Rule 13-2: See "Improving Area of Intended Stance or Swing, Position or Lie of Ball, or Line of Play or Putt" in the Index

BUILDING STANCE

13-3/1

Standing on Mat on Teeing Ground

Q.Is it permissible for a player to carry a mat and stand on it when playing from the teeing ground?

A.No. The player would be building a stance in breach of Rule 13-3.

13-3/2

Making Stroke While Kneeling on Towel

Q.A player's ball was under a tree in such a position that he found it expedient to make his next stroke while on his knees. Because the ground was wet, the player placed a towel on the ground at the spot where his knees would be situated so that the knees of his trousers would not get wet. He then knelt on the towel and made the stroke. Was the player subject to penalty under Rule 13-3 for building a stance?

A.Yes. The same answer would apply if he had wrapped the towel around his knees and knelt on it to make the stroke.

It would have been permissible for the player to have put on waterproof trousers.

Related Decision:

1-2/10 Player Wraps Towel Around Self or Places Towel on Cactus Before Taking Stance.

13-3/3

Knocking Down Side of Bunker to Get Level Stance

Q.A player knocks down the side of a bunker with his foot in an effort to get his feet on the same level. Is this permissible?

A.No. Such action constitutes building a stance in breach of Rule 13-3.

13-3/4 (Reserved)

13-3/5

Player Builds Stance But Corrects Error Before Playing Stroke

Q.A player's ball is lodged in the branch of a tree just beyond his reach with a club. The player positions his motorized golf cart under the tree, stands on the cart and prepares to make a stroke at his ball. At that point, the player is advised that he is building a stance, contrary to Rule 13-3. If the player removes the cart and does not play a stroke while standing on it, does he nevertheless incur a penalty for a breach of Rule 13-3?

A.No. If a player builds a stance through use of an object such as a golf cart, stone or brick, he incurs no penalty if he removes the object before playing his next stroke.

However, if a player builds a stance through alteration of the ground on which he is taking his stance, it is impossible for him to restore the ground to its original state. Accordingly, a player who builds a stance in such a manner incurs the penalty prescribed in Rule 13-3, whether or not he attempts to restore the ground to its original state before playing his next stroke.

BALL IN HAZARD

13-4/0.5

Meaning of "Test the Condition of the Hazard" in Rule 13-4a

Q.What is meant by "test the condition of the hazard" in Rule 13-4a?

A.The term covers all actions by which the player could gain more informa­tion about the hazard than could be gained from taking his stance for the stroke to be made, bearing in mind that a certain amount of digging in with the feet in the sand or soil is permitted when taking the stance for a stroke.

Examples of actions that would not constitute testing the condition of the hazard include the following:

  • digging in with the feet for a stance, including for a practice swing, anywhere in the hazard or in a similar hazard;
  • placing an object, such as clubs or a rake, in the hazard;
  • leaning on an object (other than a club) such as a rake while it is touching the ground in the hazard or water in a water hazard;
  • touching the hazard with an object (other than a club) such as a towel (touching with a club would be a breach of Rule 13-4b); or
  • marking the position of the ball with a tee or otherwise when proceeding under a Rule.

Examples of actions that would constitute testing the condition of the hazard in breach of Rule 13-4a include the following:

  • digging in with the feet in excess of what would be done for a stance for a stroke or a practice swing;
  • filling in footprints from a previous stance (e.g., when changing stance to make a different type of stroke);
  • intentionally sticking an object, such as a rake, into sand or soil in the hazard or water in a water hazard (but see Rule 12-1);
  • smoothing a bunker with a rake, a club or otherwise (but see Exception 2 to Rule 13-4);
  • kicking the ground in the hazard or water in a water hazard; or
  • touching the sand with a club when making a practice swing in the hazard or in a similar hazard (but see Exception 3 to Rule 13-4).

13-4/1

Touching Sand in Bunker When Ball Lies Outside Bunker

Q.A ball lies just outside a bunker. The player takes his stance in the bunker. May the player ground his club on the sand in the bunker or touch the sand during his backswing?

A.Yes. Since the ball was not in or touching the bunker, Rule 13-4 does not apply. However, the player may ground his club only lightly – see Rule 13-2.

Related Decision:

13-4/29 Grounding Club Outside Water Hazard When Playing Stroke at Ball in Hazard.

13-4/2

Leaning on Club in Hazard While Waiting to Play

Q.A, whose ball lies in a hazard, casually leans on his club in the hazard while waiting for B to play. What is the ruling?

A.A was in breach of Rule 13-4b for touching the ground in the hazard with his club before making a stroke. The Exceptions to Rule 13-4 do not apply.

13-4/3

Touching Ground in Hazard with Several Practice Swings

Q.In stroke play, a competitor in ignorance of the Rules took several practice swings in a hazard, touching the ground each time. What is the penalty?

A.Two strokes for a breach of Rule 13-4.

Related Decisions:

1-4/13 Player Advised of Breach of Rule (making practice swing and touching ground in hazard); Player Breaches Same Rule Prior to Stroke.

13-4/28 Grounding Club, Moving Loose Impediments and Improving Area of Intended Swing in Hazard.

Other Decisions related to whether multiple penalties apply: See "Multiple Penalty Situations" in the Index.

13-4/3.5

Player Uses Cane or Club to Enter or Leave Hazard When Ball Lies in Hazard

Q.A player, to prevent falling, uses a cane or club to enter or leave a hazard when his ball lies in the hazard. Is the player in breach of Rule 13-4?

A.No, provided nothing is done which constitutes testing the condition of the hazard or improves the lie of the ball – see Exception 1 to Rule 13-4.

13-4/4

Touching Grass with Club During Practice Swing in Hazard

Q.A player takes a practice swing in a water hazard without grounding his club, but his club touches some long grass. Is there a penalty?

A.No – see Note to Rule 13-4. However, the player must ensure that his actions do not breach Rule 13-2 or constitute testing the condition of the hazard.

Related Decisions:

13-4/8 When Club Touches Ground in Grass in Water Hazard.

18-2b/5 Ball Moves When Club Rested on Grass Immediately Behind Ball.

13-4/5

Touching Mound Made by Burrowing Animal with Backswing in Bunker

Q.A player's ball and a mound made by a burrowing animal are in a bunker. The mound interferes with the player's backswing, but the player elects not to take relief under Rule 25-1b(ii). During his backswing, the player's club touches the mound. Is the player in breach of Rule 13-4?

A.Yes. Rule 13-4 prohibits touching the ground in a hazard with a club before making a stroke, which is the forward movement of the club. In a hazard, a mound made by a burrowing animal is ground in the hazard.

13-4/6

Touching Solidly Embedded Stone in Hazard with Club During Backswing

Q.A player's ball lies in a hazard. In making his backswing for the stroke, the player's club touches a solidly embedded stone in the hazard. Is the stone considered "ground in the hazard"?

A.Yes.

Related Decision:

13-4/13 Accidentally Moving Loose Impediment in Hazard.

13-4/7

Touching Casual Water in Bunker with Club

Q.A player's ball lies in casual water in a bunker. The player elects to play his ball as it lies and touches the casual water with his club prior to making the stroke. The player's club does not touch the sand in the bunker except in making the stroke. What is the ruling?

A.The player incurs no penalty as he did not touch the ground in the bunker with his club prior to making his stroke – see Rule 13-4b.

13-4/8

When Club Touches Ground in Grass in Water Hazard

Q.If a player's ball lies in a water hazard, when is his club in tall grass considered to be touching the ground in the water hazard, in breach of Rule 13-4b?

A.When the grass is compressed to the point where it will support the weight of the club (i.e., when the club is grounded).

Related Decisions:

13-4/4 Touching Grass with Club During Practice Swing in Hazard.

18-2b/5 Ball Moves When Club Rested on Grass Immediately Behind Ball.

13-4/9

Player Creates and Smoothes Footprints in Bunker Prior to Making Stroke

Q.A player's ball lies in a bunker and a rake has been left in another part of the bunker. Prior to making his stroke in the bunker, the player retrieves the rake. Having lifted the rake, the player smoothes the footprints that he has just created, and some others in the process. What is the ruling?

A.There is no penalty provided the smoothing was done for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing was done to breach Rule 13-2 in relation to the player's next stroke (see Exception 2 to Rule 13-4).

If, however, a player is regularly creating and smoothing footprints close to his ball prior to making strokes from bunkers, it would be appropriate to question the player about the purpose of the smoothing. In such circumstances, the smoothing might be for the purpose of gaining knowledge of the condition of the bunker rather than being for the sole purpose of caring for the course. If so, the player would be in breach of Rule 13-4a for testing the condition of the hazard.

13-4/9.5

Loose Impediment in Bunker Moved When Player Smoothes Sand in Bunker for Sole Purpose of Caring for Course

Q.A player's ball lies in a bunker. The player picks up a rake that is lying ten yards behind his ball and, solely for the purpose of caring for the course, smoothes his footprints as he walks towards his ball. While raking his footprints, he also moves a loose impediment in the bunker. Is the player in breach of Rule 13-4c?

A.When a player's ball lies in a bunker, Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 allows a player to smooth sand in the bunker for the sole purpose of caring for the course provided nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. Therefore, there is no breach of Rule 13-4c provided that (a) the movement of the loose impediment is incidental to the act permitted by the Rules (i.e., the raking of the footprints), and (b) the lie of the ball, area of intended stance or swing or line of play is not improved by moving the loose impediment. The player is not required to replace the loose impediment so moved.

13-4/10

Referee Enters Bunker; Whether Player May Smooth Footprints

Q.A player whose ball lies in a bunker asks for a ruling from a referee, who enters the bunker to make the ruling. After the ruling, may the footprints of the referee be smoothed?

A.Yes. Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 allows the player to smooth the bunker provided it is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. However, even if the area disturbed by the referee is an area covered by Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke, in equity (Rule 1-4), the player would be entitled to restore this area of the bunker to its original condition by raking or other means. The bunker may be restored by anyone.

13-4/11

Smoothing Footprints Made in Search for Ball in Bunker Before Playing Stroke from Bunker

Q.A player searches for his ball in a bunker and in the process makes numerous footprints. He subsequently finds his ball in the bunker. Before playing his stroke, may the player or his caddie smooth the footprints?

A.Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 would allow the player to smooth the footprints provided it is done for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to improve any area covered by Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. Therefore, any footprints made that have worsened any area covered by Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke must not be smoothed.

Decision related to 13-4/10 and 13-4/11:

13-2/29 Worsening and Then Restoring Line of Play.

13-4/12

Ball Touched Accidentally with Club in Hazard But Not Moved

Q.A player, in preparing to make a stroke at his ball that was lying in a bunker or was partially submerged in water in a water hazard, accidentally touches the ball with his club, but without moving it. Does this constitute touching the ground in a hazard or water in a water hazard in breach of Rule 13-4?

A.No.

13-4/13

Accidentally Moving Loose Impediment in Hazard

Q.A player accidentally moves a loose impediment in a hazard. Does the player incur a penalty?

A.No, provided the loose impediment was not moved in making the backswing and the lie of the ball or area of the intended stance or swing was not improved.

Related Decision:

13-4/6 Touching Solidly Embedded Stone in Hazard with Club During Backswing.

13-4/13.5

Player Moves Loose Impediments When Approaching Ball in Hazard

Q.A player's ball lies in a bunker that is covered with many loose twigs and leaves. In approaching the ball and taking his stance, the player touches and moves loose impediments with his feet. Does he incur a penalty?

A.There is no penalty provided the lie of the ball or area of intended stance or swing is not improved.

13-4/14

Player Accidentally Kicks Pine Cone into Bunker and Picks It Up

Q.A player's ball went into a bunker. The player accidentally kicked a pine cone, and it rolled into the bunker. He picked up the pine cone which was not interfering with his stance or the area of his intended swing. Did he incur a penalty?

A.Yes. A pine cone is a loose impediment – see Definition of "Loose Impediments" – and may not be removed when both the impediment and the ball lie in a hazard (Rule 13-4c). By removing the pine cone from the bunker, the player incurred a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play for a breach of Rule 13-4c.

13-4/15

Ball in Hazard Moves When Loose Impediment Removed

Q.In stroke play, a competitor's ball is in a hazard. He removes a loose impediment in the hazard that causes his ball to move. What is the ruling?

A.As a single act resulted in two Rules being breached (Rule 13-4 and Rule 18-2a), in equity (Rule 1-4), a single penalty is applied. Therefore, the competitor incurs a two-stroke penalty under Rule 13-4 and the ball must be replaced (Rule 18-2a). If the ball is not replaced before the competitor makes his next stroke, the failure to replace the ball is considered a separate act and he incurs an additional penalty of two strokes under Rule 18-2a.

Other Decisions related to whether multiple penalties apply: See "Multiple Penalty Situations" in the Index.

13-4/16

Removal of Loose Impediment in Water Hazard Covering Wrong Ball

Q.It is known or virtually certain that a player's ball is in a water hazard. He finds a ball in the hazard and, in order to identify the ball, removes a loose impediment partially covering it. He discovers that the ball is not his ball. He searches for his ball but does not find it. He proceeds under Rule 26-1. Is the player subject to penalty under Rule 13-4 for removing the loose impediment

A.No. Rule 12-1b permits the player to touch or remove loose impediments in a hazard in order to find or identify his ball that is believed to be covered by loose impediments. (Revised)

Related Decisions:

13-4/35.7 Player Deems Ball Unplayable in Bunker, Lifts Ball and Then Removes Loose Impediment from Bunker.

23-1/7 Loose Impediment Affecting Lie Moved When Ball Lifted.

23-1/8 Loose Impediments Affecting Lie Removed While Ball Lifted.

13-4/16.5

Flying Insect in Water Hazard

Q.A player's ball is in a water hazard. The player is being distracted by an insect (a loose impediment) flying in the hazard. May the player swat away the insect?

A.Although the margin of a water hazard extends vertically upwards such that the insect is in the hazard, the Rules do not contemplate such a case. Thus, in equity (Rule 1-4), the player may swat away the insect whether it be flying or on the player.

Related Decisions:

23-1/5 Removal of Insect on Ball.

23-1/12 After Ball Addressed on Putting Green Ball Moved in Removal of Loose Impediment.

13-4/17

Loose Impediment Removed from Water Hazard; Player Then Decides Not to Play from Hazard

Q.A player whose ball was in a water hazard removed a loose impediment from the hazard. He then decided not to play from the hazard. He proceeded under Rule 26-1. Was the player absolved from the penalty incurred under Rule 13-4 for removing the loose impediment in view of the fact that he subsequently invoked Rule 26-1 and did not play his ball from the hazard?

A.No.

Related Decisions:

30-3f/1 Player Lifts Loose Impediment in Bunker When His Ball and Partner's Ball in Bunker.

31-8/1 Competitor Lifts Loose Impediment in Bunker When His Ball and Partner's Ball Are in Bunker.

13-4/18

Partner's, Opponent's or Fellow-Competitor's Divot Comes to Rest Near Player's Ball in Bunker

Q.A player's partner, opponent or fellow-competitor plays a stroke from near a bunker and the divot comes to rest near the player's ball lying in the bunker. May the divot be removed?

A.A player is entitled to the lie which his stroke gave him. Accordingly, in equity (Rule 1-4), the divot may be removed without penalty.

The same would apply if the player's ball was lying in a water hazard.

13-4/18.5

Pine Cone Falls from Tree and Comes to Rest Behind Ball Lying in Bunker

Q.A pine cone falls from a tree and comes to rest behind a ball which is lying in a bunker. Under the principle in Decision 13-4/18, may the player remove the pine cone without penalty?

A.No. The principle in Decision 13-4/18 is applied only in cases in which the lie of a ball has been altered as a result of an act by another player or caddie, or by a spectator or other animate outside agency. In this case, the lie was altered through natural causes.

13-4/19

Condition of Bunker Altered by First Player to Play from It

Q.The balls of A and B lie in the same bunker, with B's ball farther from the hole. B plays and his ball comes to rest nearer the hole than A's ball. Is A entitled to have the bunker restored to its original condition?

A.Yes. In addition to Exception 2 to Rule 13-4, which allows the player to smooth sand or soil in a hazard at any time for the sole purpose of caring for the course, A would be entitled, in equity (Rule 1-4), to restore the bunker to its original condition by raking or other means, even if this involves an area covered by Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. The bunker may be restored by anyone.

Decisions related to 13-4/18 through 13-4/19: See "Equity: player entitled to lie, line of play and stance when ball comes to rest after stroke" in the Index.

13-4/20 (Reserved)

13-4/21

Rake Thrown into Bunker Before Stroke

Q.A player's ball lies in a bunker. He casually throws a rake into the bunker for use after his stroke. The rake does not move his ball or improve the lie of the ball. Does the player incur a penalty?

A.No. Placing a rake in a bunker is permissible. In this case, throwing the rake into the bunker was the equivalent of placing it.

If the rake had moved the ball, the player would incur a penalty of one stroke for causing his ball to move; and the ball would have to be replaced – Rule 18-2a.

13-4/22 (Reserved)

13-4/23 (Reserved)

13-4/24

Stance in Bunker Taken Without Club

Q.A player whose ball was in a bunker entered it without a club, dug in with his feet and simulated a stroke. He then left the bunker, got a club, dug in again with his feet at the same place and made a stroke.

The Committee asked the player why he had gone through this exercise. He replied that he had wanted to get the "feel" of the shot he was about to make and that the purpose of the simulated stroke was to determine which club to use and what kind of stroke to make. He stated that he was not testing the condition of the hazard or building a stance when he dug his feet in for the simulated stroke.

How should the Committee have ruled?

A.The Committee should have ruled that no penalty was incurred.

Rule 13-3 states: "A player is entitled to place his feet firmly in taking his stance."

The Definition of "Stance" states: "Taking the 'stance' consists in a player placing his feet in position for and preparatory to making a stroke."

On the first occasion, the player was "placing his feet in position for and preparatory to making a stroke," even though he had no club in his hands.

Related Decision:

13-4/0.5 Meaning of "Test the Condition of the Hazard" in Rule 13-4a.

13-4/25 (Reserved)

13-4/26

Taking Stance in Bunker and Then Changing Clubs

Q.A player takes his stance in a bunker and firmly places his feet in the sand. He then leaves his position to change clubs and thereafter takes his stance a second time. Is the player considered to have tested the condition of the hazard, contrary to Rule 13-4?

A.No. Rule 13-3 allows a player to place his feet firmly in taking his stance in a bunker or elsewhere. There is nothing in the Rules to prohibit changing clubs or taking a stance twice in a bunker.

13-4/27 (Reserved)

13-4/28

Grounding Club, Moving Loose Impediments and Improving Area of Intended Swing in Hazard

Q.In stroke play, a competitor's ball is in a hazard. He takes a practice swing and in so doing moves loose impediments and touches the ground in the hazard. He also bends a shrub with his hand, improving the area of his intended swing. What is the penalty?

A.As a single act (i.e., the practice swing) resulted in two Rules being breached (Rule 13-4b and Rule 13-4c), in equity (Rule 1-4), a single penalty of two strokes is applied. However, the competitor also incurs a penalty of two strokes for improving the area of his intended swing by bending a shrub (Rule 13-2).

The practice swing and the bending of the shrub are different acts that resulted in the breach of two Rules and both penalties are applied giving a total penalty of four strokes.

Other Decisions related to whether multiple penalties apply: See "Multiple Penalty Situations" in the Index.

13-4/29

Grounding Club Outside Water Hazard When Playing Stroke at Ball in Hazard

Q.A player's ball touches a line defining the margin of a water hazard. So the ball is in the hazard. In addressing the ball for his next stroke, may the player's club be grounded outside the hazard?

A.Yes.

Related Decision:

13-4/1 Touching Sand in Bunker When Ball Lies Outside Bunker.

13-4/30

Grounding Club on Bridge in Water Hazard

Q.A player's ball lies on a bridge over a water hazard within the margins of the hazard when extended upwards. May the player ground his club?

A.Yes. A bridge is an obstruction. In a hazard, the club may touch an obstruction at address or in the backward movement for the stroke – see Note under Rule 13-4. Touching the bridge prior to address is also permissible, since an obstruction in a water hazard is not "ground in the hazard."

This applies even if the bridge has been declared an integral part of the course.

13-4/31

Touching Sand in Bunker During Backswing

Q.A player playing a shot in a bunker accidentally touched the sand when making his backswing. What is the ruling?

A.The player was in breach of Rule 13-4b when he touched the ground in the bunker with his club before making the stroke – see Definition of "Stroke."

Related Decisions:

13-2/9 Lie Through the Green Improved When Sand Behind Ball Removed by Backswing.

13-2/12 Player Presses Down Sand Behind Ball in Grounding Club.

13-4/32 (Reserved)

13-4/33

Bunker Covered by Leaves; Player Touches Leaves During Backswing

Q.A player hits a ball into a bunker which is covered by leaves (loose impediments). The player removes as many leaves as will enable him to see a part of the ball in accordance with Rule 12-1. If the player then touches some of the leaves on his backswing, is he in breach of the Rules?

A.Yes. If the player touches leaves on his backswing, he is in breach of Rule 13-4c which prohibits a player from touching a loose impediment in a hazard before making a stroke in the hazard. A stroke does not begin until after the completion of the player's backswing – see Definition of "Stroke."

If fallen leaves in bunkers seasonally create an abnormal problem, the Committee may make a Local Rule declaring accumulations of leaves in bunkers to be ground under repair. Rule 25-1b(ii) would then apply.

13-4/34

Touching Bare Earth Wall of Bunker on Backswing

Q.In playing from a bunker, a player touches a bare earth wall of the bunker with his club on his backswing. What is the ruling?

A.The player touched the ground in the hazard in breach of Rule 13-4b. The Note to Rule 13-4 permits a player's club to touch an obstruction (such as an artificial wall) on his backswing. However, an earth wall of a bunker is not an artificial wall.

13-4/35

Hitting Sand in Bunker with Club After Failing to Extricate Ball

Q.A made a stroke in a bunker and failed to get the ball out. He then swung his club into the sand, but his action did not affect his new lie in the bunker. However, since A had to make another stroke in the bunker, was he in breach of Rule 13-4?

A.Yes. None of the Exceptions under Rule 13-4 apply to A's action.

Related Decisions:

29/5 Hitting Sand in Bunker with Club After Failing to Extricate Ball; Foursome Match.

30-3f/2 Hitting Sand in Bunker with Club After Failing to Extricate Ball; Partner's Ball in Same Bunker.

13-4/35.5

Ball Played from Bunker onto Grass Bank; Player Hits Sand with Club; Ball Then Rolls Back into Bunker

Q.A player plays from a bunker and the ball lands on the grass bank of the bunker. Before the ball comes to rest, the player swings his club into the sand, after which the ball rolls back into the bunker.

Rule 13-4b prohibits touching the ground in a hazard with a club when the ball lies in the hazard. Does the player incur a penalty under this Rule even though the ball was outside the bunker when the club was swung into the sand?

A.No. However, if the club was still touching the sand when the ball rolled back into the bunker, a breach of Rule 13-4 occurred, and any doubt on this point should be resolved against the player.

13-4/35.7

Player Deems Ball Unplayable in Bunker, Lifts Ball and Then Removes Loose Impediment from Bunker

Q.A player's tee shot comes to rest in a bunker. He lifts his ball from the bunker after deeming it unplayable. Before selecting an option under Rule 28, he removes a loose impediment from the bunker. Since this action took place while his ball was lifted, i.e., it was not lying in the hazard, was the player in breach of Rule 13-4?

A.Yes. The prohibitions of Rule 13-4 apply when a ball is in a hazard or when a ball, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard. Under the unplayable ball Rule, two of the player's options require him to drop a ball in the bunker. The player would incur the penalty even if he subsequently elected to put a ball into play outside the bunker under Rule 28a. However, the player would not incur the penalty if, before removing the loose impediment, he had indicated that he would put a ball into play outside the bunker under Rule 28a and subsequently did so.

Related Decisions:

1-4/5 Removal of Obstruction in Hazard Would Move Loose Impediment.

13-4/16 Removal of Loose Impediment in Water Hazard Covering Wrong Ball.

23-1/7 Loose Impediment Affecting Lie Moved When Ball Lifted.

23-1/8 Loose Impediments Affecting Lie Removed While Ball Lifted.

13-4/35.8

Player Deems Ball Unplayable in Bunker, Announces His Intention to Proceed Under Rule 28a Outside Bunker and Then Rakes Bunker on New Line of Play

Q.A player's tee shot comes to rest in a bunker in front of the putting green. He lifts the ball after deeming it unplayable and announces his intention to proceed under Rule 28a. Before walking back to play from the teeing ground again, the player smoothes his footprints in the bunker, which are on his line of play from the teeing ground. He then plays from the teeing ground. What is the ruling?

A.In equity (Rule 1-4), and by analogy to Exception 2 to Rule 13-4, once a player has indicated he will proceed under a Rule that requires him to make his next stroke from outside the hazard, he may smooth sand or soil in the hazard without restriction.

The fact that the smoothing improved the player's line of play for his next stroke from the teeing ground is irrelevant as the right to smooth in these circumstances overrides any conflicting provisions in Rule 13-2.

However, if the player changed his mind and proceeded under Rule 28b or c, he would be in breach of Rule 13-4 if the smoothing of the bunker was not done for the sole purpose of caring for the course or resulted in any area covered by Rule 13-2 with respect to the next stroke being improved.

13-4/36 (Reserved)

13-4/37

Ball Played from Bunker Is Out of Bounds or Lost; Player Tests Condition of Bunker or Smoothes Footprints Before Dropping Another Ball in Bunker

Q.A player plays from a bunker and his ball comes to rest out of bounds or is lost. He smoothes his footprints in the bunker at the place where he must drop a ball under Rule 27-1 or, before dropping a ball under Rule 27-1, he takes a few practice swings touching the sand in the bunker. Is the player in breach of Rule 13-4?

A.No. The prohibitions in Rule 13-4 apply only when the player's ball is in the hazard or when it has been lifted from a hazard and may be dropped or placed in the hazard. In this case, the player's ball has been played from the hazard rather than lifted.

Furthermore, Exception 2 under Rule 13-4 allows a player, after playing his ball out of a hazard, to smooth sand or soil in the hazard without restriction. This right overrides any conflicting provisions in other Rules, including Rule 13-2.

13-4/37.5

Player Smoothes Irregularities in Bunker After Playing Out Backwards; Smoothed Area on Line of Play

Q.A player plays out of a bunker backwards and smoothes his footprints. He then discovers that the smoothed area of the bunker is on his line of play. Is he in breach of Rule 13-2?

A.No. Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 allows a player, after playing his ball out of a hazard, to smooth sand in the hazard without restriction. This right overrides any conflicting provisions in other Rules, including Rule 13-2.

Related Decisions:

13-2/28 Smoothing Irregularities in Bunker Situated Between Ball and Hole.

13-2/29 Worsening and Then Restoring Line of Play (creating and then smoothing footprints in bunker on line of play).

13-2/29.3 Creating Footprints in Bunker on Line of Play When Required to Enter Bunker to Retrieve Ball.

13-4/10 Referee Enters Bunker; Whether Player May Smooth Footprints.

13-4/38

Sand Smoothed After Ball Played Out of Bunker; Ball Later Returns to Smoothed Area

Q.After playing his ball out of a greenside bunker, the player smoothes his footprints. He then discovers that his ball is in another bunker on the other side of the green. He plays out of the second bunker and the ball comes to rest in the smoothed area of the first bunker. What is the ruling?

A.No penalty was incurred. The player did not smooth his footprints in the first bunker while his ball still lay in that bunker – see Exception 2 to Rule 13-4.

If, however, the player failed to extricate his ball from the first bunker with his first stroke and had smoothed his footprints while his ball still lay in that bunker, he would have incurred a penalty if the act of smoothing his footprints had caused a breach of Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke.

13-4/39

Player Smoothes Irregularities in Bunker After Playing Out of Turn in Match Play; Opponent Then Recalls Stroke

Q.In a match between A and B, A's ball lay in a bunker near the green and B's ball was on the green. B's ball was farther from the hole but A played first. B recalled the stroke under Rule 10-1c. In the meantime A had raked his footprints. Did A incur a penalty?

A.If A's ball was outside the bunker when he raked his footprints, A incurred no penalty as he was permitted to rake the bunker without restriction – Exception 2 to Rule 13-4.

If A's ball still lay in the bunker then he would, ordinarily, be in breach of Rule 13-4 if his smoothing of the sand improved an area covered by Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke (see Exception 2 to Rule 13-4). However, when A raked the bunker, he was unaware that his stroke would be recalled; therefore, in equity (Rule 1-4), A incurs no penalty.

13-4/40

Player Cleans Clubhead in Water Hazard When Ball Lies in Hazard

Q.A player plays a stroke from within a water hazard but does not extricate the ball from the hazard. The player sees the ball land in deep water and it is clearly unreasonable for him to play a stroke at the ball from its new position. Before leaving the hazard, the player cleans mud off his clubhead by rinsing it in the water. Is the player in breach of Rule 13-4?

A.No, provided that there is no doubt or it is reasonable to assume from the player's actions or statements that he will play his next stroke from outside the hazard.

Other Decisions related to Rule 13-4: See "Bunker" and "Water Hazards" in the Index.

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