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Temporary Relief in Bunkers


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Our golf course in Madeira, Portugal has to ship sand 800km from Morocco for bunkers as all natural sand on the island is black. At the moment this has resulted in a reasonable sand depth being present in the areas of the rims to RHS bunkers but in  portions of the central areas the sand is no more than 3-4mm deep with hard packed earth below resulting in a sand wedge bouncing off and it is impossible to take any sand in the shot. Incan find no definition of depth of sand in the Portuguese or R&A documents whereas the USGA states sand should be a minimum of 4” or 100mm. Would there be grounds for temporary relief without penalty by dropping the ball in an area where sand exists but no nearer the hole as per the rule for standing water until such time as we can ship more sand?? Would appreciate opinion on the issue. Robert

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I don't know if there are any specific requirements for depth of sand in bunkers.  In fact, if you are within the limits of the bunker and on "ground where sand would normally be", your ball is considered to be in the bunker.  However, your Committee could use Local Rule C-4 to define certain bunkers as part of the General Area, and as Ground Under Repair, which would allow you to take relief outside the bunker.  The Committee could define only portions of the bunker as GUR, which would allow you to take free relief at the nearest point of relief within the bunker.  Generally GUR is marked, but I suppose it might be possible to define the "lack of sand" as the identifying feature of the GUR.  You can look at Model Local Rule F-1 for some examples of possible definitions of GUR.

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On 3/26/2021 at 7:33 PM, Robert Gardner said:

Would there be grounds for temporary relief without penalty by dropping the ball in an area where sand exists but no nearer the hole as per the rule for standing water until such time as we can ship more sand?? Would appreciate opinion on the issue. Robert

Just because bunkers may have less than 4" of sand in the USA, doesn't mean that they are automatically considered GUR. It would be up to the course to mark the bunker. I've hit out of bunkers that were you were hitting off of mud. 

 

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1 hour ago, DaveP043 said:

I don't know if there are any specific requirements for depth of sand in bunkers.  In fact, if you are within the limits of the bunker and on "ground where sand would normally be", your ball is considered to be in the bunker.  However, your Committee could use Local Rule C-4 to define certain bunkers as part of the General Area, and as Ground Under Repair, which would allow you to take relief outside the bunker.  The Committee could define only portions of the bunker as GUR, which would allow you to take free relief at the nearest point of relief within the bunker.  Generally GUR is marked, but I suppose it might be possible to define the "lack of sand" as the identifying feature of the GUR.  You can look at Model Local Rule F-1 for some examples of possible definitions of GUR.

Here (UK) It is common practice to identify/mark bunkers designated as GUR with a blue flag or stake.

On 3/26/2021 at 11:33 PM, Robert Gardner said:

Our golf course in Madeira, Portugal has to ship sand 800km from Morocco for bunkers as all natural sand on the island is black. At the moment this has resulted in a reasonable sand depth being present in the areas of the rims to RHS bunkers but in  portions of the central areas the sand is no more than 3-4mm deep with hard packed earth below resulting in a sand wedge bouncing off and it is impossible to take any sand in the shot. Incan find no definition of depth of sand in the Portuguese or R&A documents whereas the USGA states sand should be a minimum of 4” or 100mm. Would there be grounds for temporary relief without penalty by dropping the ball in an area where sand exists but no nearer the hole as per the rule for standing water until such time as we can ship more sand?? Would appreciate opinion on the issue. Robert

Depending in the density or consistency of the sand IMO 4" is unusually deep. 

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Wouldn't that be a local rule, like up to the course themselves? Bunkers have been a topic these days with C19, people not raking, lift and drop, etc. In the northern states, muddy bunkers are the challenge now. I was in a fairway bunker similar to what the OP is describing, about 3/4" of sand and then hard compact dirt. My sand wedge just bounced off the hard pan and I bladed the ball off the other side of the green.  4mm is only 0.15748", not enough imo.

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Don't hit it in the bunker, then.

And if it is 4mm, chip it out. Who says you have to play an explosion shot? Hell, I've putted out of bunkers before. 🙂

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23 minutes ago, iacas said:

Don't hit it in the bunker, then.

And if it is 4mm, chip it out. Who says you have to play an explosion shot? Hell, I've putted out of bunkers before. 🙂

When the Buick open was in Gran Blanc Michigan some years back, and I was attending on a friday, I watched Gary Nicklaus, Jack's son, play his shot from a short-sided position at a green, also with a low profile sand trap between him and the green. To my amazement, he putted 'into' the trap and out the other side on to the green, quite successfully I might add. That is the only time I ever seen somebody do this. I have witnessed many putting out of a green, but never in one side and out the other. Quite amazing.

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10 hours ago, iacas said:

Don't hit it in the bunker, then.

And if it is 4mm, chip it out. Who says you have to play an explosion shot? Hell, I've putted out of bunkers before. 🙂

Reply: OK to play out with a putter as long as the grass edge does not overhang the bunker edge wherein the ball will go up in the air and back in the bunker. Overtaken by events wherein we had a tropical storm on Sunday with 66litres per m2 over 5 hours (13 pints/ft2) and 80% of the sand has gone. Still no local rule announced by the club.

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40 minutes ago, Robert Gardner said:

Reply: OK to play out with a putter as long as the grass edge does not overhang the bunker edge wherein the ball will go up in the air and back in the bunker. Overtaken by events wherein we had a tropical storm on Sunday with 66litres per m2 over 5 hours (13 pints/ft2) and 80% of the sand has gone. Still no local rule announced by the club.

Unless the situation is so bad that you can't hit a ball out (putter, chip, pitch or explosion) or there is water, generally courses are reluctant to mark bunkers GUR.  A lot of work.  For example, I have played in courses where after rains the bunkers are very hard and playing an explosion shot is difficult.  If you learn how to get out of bunkers with other shots, it will help your overall short game. Even a flop shot out of a hard pan bunker is possible if you can just get the club under the ball cleanly

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Here in southern Arizona there are often bunkers with little sand.  The wind blows it out, and the summer rain often seems to tamp it down, so you end up with hardpan, with a thin layer of sand on top, especially on courses that might not be maintained as well as we would wish.  Chipping out isn't a bad solution at all.  The way I hit explosion shots, it is often a better choice!

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11 minutes ago, jlbos83 said:

Here in southern Arizona there are often bunkers with little sand.  The wind blows it out, and the summer rain often seems to tamp it down, so you end up with hardpan, with a thin layer of sand on top, especially on courses that might not be maintained as well as we would wish.  Chipping out isn't a bad solution at all.  The way I hit explosion shots, it is often a better choice!

When you chip out, what club do you use for green side bunkers, generally?

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7 minutes ago, Billy Z said:

When you chip out, what club do you use for green side bunkers, generally?

It depends on the lip, uphill or downhill, and distance.  Fortunately, I don't play a lot of courses with deep bunkers.  I usually use a PW or 54 degree, just trying to chip onto the green, and let it roll.  In some respects, it is almost like putting out.  Just trying to get out of the bunker, and rolling toward the hole.  Up and down would be nice, but once I'm in that kind of position I like to make sure I am out and on, close, nice but not first priority.

A lot of the courses I play have quite a bit of hardpan once you get off the beaten path, so I am used to clipping a PW off of a hard surface.  Probably the only thing I do better than a lot of the folks I play with!  I get too much practice!

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