Ball un­playable in bunker – Rule 28

Golf Monthly - - Shane Lowry -

a. Play a ball as nearly as pos­si­ble at the spot from which the orig­i­nal ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or

b. Drop a ball be­hind the point where the ball lay, keep­ing that point di­rectly be­tween the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far be­hind that point the ball may be dropped; or

c. Drop a ball within two clublengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole.

Let’s go back to the bunker and the sand now, and that ball that is per­haps lodged firmly un­der the lip, tight against a steep back edge, or right next to a steep wall or bank that would ren­der any form of stance im­pos­si­ble or vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble.

The first thing to stress is that all three op­tions re­main avail­able to you, with one im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion – if you go for op­tions (b) or (c) un­der Rule 28, the ball must be dropped in the bunker. The only op­tion to drop Un­playable lie in a bunker? You must drop in that bunker un­less you opt to go back to where you last played from the ball out­side of the bunker is to pro­ceed un­der op­tion (a), pro­vided you last played the ball from out­side the bunker!

This may well cast a very dif­fer­ent light on your fi­nal de­ci­sion, as we all know that a golf ball has an in­fu­ri­at­ing ten­dency to plug when dropped from shoul­der height into sand. You will need to de­cide whether the risk of a plugged or semi-plugged ball is prefer­able to go­ing back and play­ing what may have been a very dif­fi­cult shot again from some dis­tance away.

One fi­nal thing – if your ball is so buried that you can’t even see it, you may touch or move the sand in or­der to lo­cate it with­out penalty, as long as you recre­ate the lie as nearly as pos­si­ble af­ter­wards by re­plac­ing any sand moved (Rule 12-1a)… and you are al­lowed to leave a small part of the ball vis­i­ble should you then de­cide that it’s playable enough to war­rant hav­ing a go af­ter all!

ost golfers like to think that how­ever their ball is ly­ing, there must al­ways be some way of mak­ing a stroke at it, even if they can only move it a few feet. Such pos­i­tive at­ti­tudes are ad­mirable, but as ev­ery golfer will also be able to tes­tify, there are oc­ca­sion­ally times when it is sim­ply im­pos­si­ble, im­prac­ti­cal or in­ad­vis­able to make any stroke at the ball. But what if your ball lies in a bunker at such a time?

First, it’s worth re­it­er­at­ing that un­der Rule 28, the player is the sole judge as to whether or not his or her ball is un­playable, and may deem it un­playable any­where on the course other than in a wa­ter haz­ard or lat­eral wa­ter haz­ard.

Most golfers prob­a­bly know that there are then three op­tions avail­able un­der Rule 28, which, un­der penalty of one stroke, al­low you to:

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