Rule 12 - Bunkers

12.2  Playing Ball in Bunker

12.2a/1 – Improvement Resulting from Removing Loose Impediment or Movable Obstruction from a Bunker

When removing a loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued) or a movable obstructionMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.(...Continued) from a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued), sand is often moved as a result of removing the object, and there is no penalty if this improvesImprove: 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. 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. if the actions taken to remove the loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued) or movable obstructionMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.(...Continued) were reasonable (Rule 8.1b(2)).

For example, a player removes a pine cone near their ball and improvesImprove: 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. by dragging the pine cone away in a way that also removes a mound of sand from the area of their intended swing.

The player could have used a less intrusive way to remove the pine cone (such as lifting the pine cone straight up without dragging it behind the ball). Because their actions are not reasonable in this situation, the player gets a penalty for a breach of Rule 8.1a (Improving the Conditions Affecting the Stroke).

12.2b/1 – Rule 12.2b Applies to a Mound of Sand from an Animal Hole in a Bunker

If a player’s ball lies in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) on or near a mound of sand that is part of an animal holeAnimal Hole: Any hole dug in the ground by an animal, except for holes dug by animals that are also defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).(...Continued), the restrictions in Rule 12.2b(1) apply to touching that mound of sand.

However, the player may take relief from the animal holeAnimal Hole: Any hole dug in the ground by an animal, except for holes dug by animals that are also defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).(...Continued) (which is an abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions:) under Rule 16.1c.

12.2b/2 – Whether Player May Probe in Bunker

8.1a/7 confirms that a player may probe anywhere on the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee:(...Continued) (including in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued)) without penalty to determine if tree roots, rocks or obstructionsObstruction: Any artificial object except for integral objects and boundary objects.(...Continued) might interfere with their strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued), as long as the player does not 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..

For example, when a player’s ball comes to rest near a drain in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued), the player may use a teeTee: An object used to raise a ball above the ground to play it from the teeing area. It must be no longer than 4 inches (101.6 mm) and conform with the Equipment Rules. to probe the sand to determine the extent of the drain and whether it will interfere with their strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued).

However, if the purpose of the probing is to test the condition of the sand, the player is in breach of Rule 12.2b(1).

12.2b/3 – Rule 12.2 Continues to Apply When Player Has Lifted Their Ball from Bunker to Take Relief but Has Not Yet Decided Whether to Take Relief In or Out of Bunker

If a player has lifted the ball from a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) to take relief under a Rule but has not yet decided which relief option to use, the restrictions in Rule 12.2b(1) continue to apply.

For example, if a player’s tee shot is unplayable in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued)  and they are deciding whether to go back to the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole they are playing.(...Continued) to play again under penalty of stroke and distanceStroke and Distance: The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).(...Continued), take relief in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) or take back-on-the-line relief outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued), the player is in breach of Rule 12.2b if they deliberately test the condition of the sand in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) or hit the sand with a practice swing.

However, just as Rule 12.2b(1) no longer applies after the player has played a ball and it is outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued), Rule 12.2b(1) does not apply after the player decides to take relief outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) so long as relief is actually taken outside the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued).