Playing from the Bunker

When you encounter the dreaded bunker during your round, there are a number of ball position scenarios that affect the way you play your way out of the bunker. Let’s look at some rules and guidelines you can follow to help you with different bunker situations:
  • It is against the rules to let the clubhead touch the sand in the bunker as you address the ball or during the course of your backswing. Doing so will result in a penalty stroke. So be sure to keep your clubhead a good distance above the sand as you attempt your shot.
  • If you have ever landed your ball in a puddle in a bunker, you may have felt helpless. However, the opposite is true. If your ball lands in a bunker that is completely waterlogged, you have three options.
    • You can play your ball as it lies, getting wet in the process.
    • You can remove the ball and place it in the shallowest part of the water in the bunker (but no closer to the hole).
    • You can completely remove the ball from the bunker and take a drop outside the bunker. However, doing so will result in a penalty stroke as you have just deemed your submerged ball as in an unplayable lie.
  • There are always times where you find you and your buddies hit your balls in the same spot. Most of the time it is not a problem, but in the bunker, you never know what the sand will do. If you have two balls in the bunker you have some options as well.
    • If you feel that one shot will not affect the others lie, then play on as you normally would.
    • If not, decide which of the two is most practical to play first. Lift the other ball out of the way and mark it with a tee peg.
    • Once the ball is hit, replace the second ball in the exact condition as it was in when you picked it up. If it was a perfect lie, rake the sand then replace it. If it was a plugged ball, it must be plugged upon replacement.
  • Last, I think we all have landed a ball up against a bunker rake before, it happens far too often. If your ball comes to rest against a rake you are entitled to relief.
    • Before you lift and move the rake out of the way, if there is a chance that your ball might move, mark it with a tee peg.
    • Remember that you are allowed to PLACE your ball in the sand when you replace it in the sand, recreating the original lie as accurately as possible.
    • You are not required to drop the ball in the sand.
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