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Testing the Condition of a Bunker — Digging in With Your Feet

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On a side note, it will be a pain in the ass to rake a bunker to acceptable condition if you are taking multiple condition testing locations.

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@iacas

Just caught up with this topic. I absolutely get your argument "how can digging in with the feet prior to playing from the bunker not be testing the conditions of the sand"? It is, in simple, plain English, gaining information about the nature of the sand conditions. It is not the only reason to dig in the feet and practice swing - the player is also seeking to replicate the stroke feeling for the intended shot (including getting feet stable) - but it is a key reason.

But the rules permitted it pre-2019 and that hasn't changed - that is, it is a "permitted" form of testing, different from the golf rules-defined illegitimate testing (12.2b(1)). And while Rule 12.2b(2) doesn't put any overt limits on it, I think the guidance in 8.1b(5) and 8.1b/2 implies some constraints - although we don't have RB feedback on the extent. Perhaps if tour players started to follow the approach you modelled in your video we may get more explicit guidance on that. 

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So under that rule it seems that Patrick Reed could have gently tested the sand right behind his ball in the trap to level out the small mound behind his ball.  What am I missing here?  The improving or building of a lie?

Edited by Double Mocha Man

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10 minutes ago, Double Mocha Man said:

So under that rule it seems that Patrick Reed could have gently tested the sand right behind his ball in the trap to level out the small mound behind his ball.  What am I missing here?  The improving or building of a lie?

I think that is where it crosses the line. 

Quote

But the player gets the general penalty if his or her actions in touching the sand improve the conditions affecting the stroke in breach of Rule 8.1a. (See also Rules 8.2 and 8.3 for limitations on improving or worsening other physical conditions to affect play.)

No smoothing the sand behind the ball with the feet. 

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16 minutes ago, Double Mocha Man said:

So under that rule it seems that Patrick Reed could have gently tested the sand right behind his ball in the trap to level out the small mound behind his ball.  What am I missing here?  The improving or building of a lie?

That issue is unrelated to 'testing the sand', it is a breach of 8.1a, improving the conditions affecting the stroke.

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6 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

I think that is where it crosses the line. 

No smoothing the sand behind the ball with the feet. 

So...pretty much like Gary Player did at The Open video that @iacas posted some time ago? But with his club....

Edited by Vinsk

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5 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

I think that is where it crosses the line. 

No smoothing the sand behind the ball with the feet. 

Precisely

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I've played by the assumption that you can't dig feet in unless taking your stance to hit the shot. Never really questioned it, because I always felt that by digging in, I was testing the sand at the same time. Don't really need to do it elsewhere.  So seems fine to me if people want to dig in elsewhere.  Improving the lie is definitely different.

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4 minutes ago, phillyk said:

I've played by the assumption that you can't dig feet in unless taking your stance to hit the shot. Never really questioned it, because I always felt that by digging in, I was testing the sand at the same time.

Ditto.

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44 minutes ago, phillyk said:

I've played by the assumption that you can't dig feet in unless taking your stance to hit the shot. Never really questioned it, because I always felt that by digging in, I was testing the sand at the same time. Don't really need to do it elsewhere.  So seems fine to me if people want to dig in elsewhere.  Improving the lie is definitely different.

Yes, and my understanding was that once I decide to dig in, I can't change what I'm about to do.  "Oh, the sand is really shallow here and hard" might come to mind when digging in, but I don't think I'm supposed to use that information. 

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13 minutes ago, Shindig said:

Yes, and my understanding was that once I decide to dig in, I can't change what I'm about to do.  "Oh, the sand is really shallow here and hard" might come to mind when digging in, but I don't think I'm supposed to use that information. 

Agree with Shindig here.  When I dig my feet into the sand to get a solid stance in the trap I feel guilty just knowing I am using some of that intel (however unintentional) to adjust my swing, entrance distance behind ball and angle of clubface.  I walk out of that trap with a look on my face that says to my playing partners I just embezzled someone and got away with it.  I'm sure they do the same thing.

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For me it's,

1. Is there the good amount of sand
2. Is there an obscene amount of sand

If #2, I will be complaining about it. 

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23 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

For me it's,

1. Is there the good amount of sand
2. Is there an obscene amount of sand

If #2, I will be complaining about it. 

Lol. I’ll go:

1. Just hit the damn shot.

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3 hours ago, Shindig said:

Yes, and my understanding was that once I decide to dig in, I can't change what I'm about to do.  "Oh, the sand is really shallow here and hard" might come to mind when digging in, but I don't think I'm supposed to use that information. 

 

3 hours ago, Double Mocha Man said:

Agree with Shindig here.  When I dig my feet into the sand to get a solid stance in the trap I feel guilty just knowing I am using some of that intel (however unintentional) to adjust my swing, entrance distance behind ball and angle of clubface.  I walk out of that trap with a look on my face that says to my playing partners I just embezzled someone and got away with it.  I'm sure they do the same thing.

I don't know ... for me, it's the walk to the ball that's already informed me how much "digging in" is going to be necessary to find a solid stance.  When I walk into a hard fairway bunker I don't dig in because I don't need to.  I've already finished my "testing" by not disturbing any sand with my 260 lb. steps.  By the same token, when I walk to the ball and sand falls into the top of my shoes, I know its soft and I'll need to dig in.

Honestly, all of this, plus the adjusted Covid bunker rules have me falling into the position that there doesn't really need to be any rules regarding bunkers outside of improving the lie by grounding the club behind the ball and Reed-ing it.

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4 hours ago, Shindig said:

Yes, and my understanding was that once I decide to dig in, I can't change what I'm about to do.  "Oh, the sand is really shallow here and hard" might come to mind when digging in, but I don't think I'm supposed to use that information. 

What? Of course you can use that info.

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7 hours ago, Shindig said:

Yes, and my understanding was that once I decide to dig in, I can't change what I'm about to do.  "Oh, the sand is really shallow here and hard" might come to mind when digging in, but I don't think I'm supposed to use that information. 

RB's guide you otherwise in 8.1b/2.

8.1b/2 – Player Allowed to Dig in Firmly with Feet More Than Once in Taking Stance
Rule 8.1b allows a player to place his or her feet firmly in taking a stance, and this may be done more than once in preparing to make a stroke.

For example, a player may enter a bunker without a club, dig in with his or her feet in taking a stance to simulate playing the ball, leave to get a club, and then dig in again with his or her feet and make the stroke.

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Basically, do what ever you like with your feet except for improving the lie (i.e. smoothing out the sand behind the ball with your foot) 

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