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Major Change: Moving or Touching Loose Impediments or Touching Sand in a BunkerGolf's New Rules

Golf's New Rules: Major Changes

New Rule: Under Rules 12.2a and 12.2b, the player is allowed to touch or move loose impediments in a bunker and is generally allowed to touch the sand with a hand or club; but a limited prohibition continues so that the player must not:

  • Deliberately touch the sand in a bunker with a hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn information for the stroke, or
  • Touch the sand in a bunker with a club in making a practice swing, in grounding the club right in front of or behind the ball, or in making the backswing for a stroke.

Reasons for Change:

The challenge of playing from a bunker is the need to play out of the sand, not to play with leaves, stones or other loose impediments left in place in the bunker.

The previous approach created confusion by stating a total prohibition on touching the sand with a hand or club and then recognizing many exceptions.

The revised Rule simplifies this by prohibiting only those acts where there is a purpose for doing so under the Rules:

  • Deliberately testing the condition of the sand with a hand or club continues to be prohibited because part of the player’s challenge is to assess and predict how the sand may affect the stroke, and also because it is time consuming and inappropriate for players to dig in the sand with a hand or club for that purpose before every shot.
  • Touching the sand with the club right in front of or behind the ball or in the backswing for the stroke continues to be prohibited to make sure the player does nothing to reduce the challenge of playing from the sand; these prohibitions are already well known and followed by almost all players.
  • Touching the sand with a club in taking a practice swing continues to be prohibited both for pace of play and to avoid having large amounts of sand deposited outside bunkers (especially greenside bunkers) as a result of repeated practice swings.