Rule 12 - Bunkers

Purpose of Rule: Rule 12 is a specific Rule for bunkers, which are specially prepared areas intended to test the player’s ability to play a ball from the sand. To make sure the player confronts this challenge, there are some restrictions on touching the sand before the stroke is made and on where relief may be taken for a ball in a bunker.

12.1  When Ball Is in Bunker

A ball is in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. when any part of the ball:

If a ball lies on soil or grass or other growing or attached natural objects inside the edge of the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. without touching any sand, the ball is not in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed..

If part of the ball is both in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. and in another area of the courseAreas of the Course: The five defined areas that make up the course:, see Rule 2.2c.

12.2  Playing Ball in Bunker

This Rule applies both during a roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. and while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a.

a. Removing Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions

Before playing a ball in a bunkerRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee., a player may remove loose impedimentsLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as: under Rule 15.1 and movable obstructionsMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course. under Rule 15.2.

This includes any reasonable touching or movement of the sand in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. that happens while doing so.

b. Restrictions on Touching Sand in Bunker

(1) When Touching Sand Results in Penalty. Before making a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. at a ball in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., a player must not:

(2) When Touching Sand Does Not Result in Penalty. Except as covered by (1), this Rule does not prohibit the player from touching sand in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. in any other way, including:

But the player gets the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. if his or her actions in touching the sand improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. in breach of Rule 8.1a. (See also Rules 8.2 and 8.3 for limitations on improvingImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. or worsening other physical conditions to affect play.)

(3) No Restrictions After Ball Is Played Out of Bunker. After a ball in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. is played and it is outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., the player may:

This is true even if the ball comes to rest outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. and:

But if the ball played from the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed. comes back into the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., or the player takes relief by droppingDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. a ball in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., the restrictions in Rules 12.2b(1) and 8.1a again apply to that ball in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole: in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed..

Penalty for Breach of Rule 12.2: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

12.3  Specific Rules for Relief for Ball in Bunker

When a ball is in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed., specific relief Rules may apply in these situations: