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Unplayables in a Bunker


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I think that was the same year they had the Open at Oakmont because I remember the discussion about this coming up in regards to the Open as well.  I guess "furrowed" bunkers was a thing a long time ago, and he and the USGA were considering the idea of bringing them back.  That would be fine by me.

It's simply about knowing what to expect.  I don't have any problem with hard bunkers or soft bunkers, but I should be able to plan for it.  I would be able to plan for intentional furrows.  It's the unraked footprints that can be a little frustrating, because they can make what should have been a do-able shot into a really difficult shot.  The other thing about bunkers that's frustrating is when they vary a lot within a course.  Some really hard, some really soft sand, some in between.

There is nothing at all wrong with bunkers being penal unless it's a situation that you can't plan your strategy around.


I hate hitting out of footprints too, especially when they're my own from the last attempt. ;-)

I remember the year that Jack went with furrowed bunker rakes. As if his bunkers aren't penal enough. Last Friday, I watched Villegas' shot come up short of the bunker on 18. The guy next to me was said, "At least it didn't go in the bunker." I replied that he would prefer that it went in. He gave me a funny look until Camillo's next shot sailed out of the spinach onto the 10th tee box. Personally, I think thick grass bunkers penalize you more than sand bunkers.

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As the bunkers should be a penalty... and the way bunkers are manicured on most courses, players almost always prefer a bunker opposed to being in the rough.

They say that, but no, the stats don't really bear that out. Only on the PGA Tour do they get close, but the grass always wins. And the gap gets wider from there.

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Speaking of sod-faced bunkers, this is the pic depicting the thread on this site.....

Interestingly, it's tough to tell from this pic, but if this were a sod-faced (stacked turf) bunker, the player would be entitled to drop as far back behind the bunker as he likes, keeping this point between him and the hole.

Assuming that this in considered to be outside the bunker (through the green) and the course in question was playing the embedded ball rule through the green, would you be entitled to a free drop if it end up getting into this position on the fly?  Would the nearest point of relief likely be behind the bunker?

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Assuming that this in considered to be outside the bunker (through the green) and the course in question was playing the embedded ball rule through the green, would you be entitled to a free drop if it end up getting into this position on the fly?  Would the nearest point of relief likely be behind the bunker?

Off topic and easy to answer for yourself.

25-2 . Embedded Ball

A ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground in any closely mown area through the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole . The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green . “Closely mown area” means any area of the course , including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.

Simple suggestion for you @MEfree - post about golf, not about golf rules. You've burned too many bridges and the patience of too many on that.

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Off topic and easy to answer for yourself.

25-2. Embedded Ball

A ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground in any closely mown areathrough the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the coursethrough the green. “Closely mown area” means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.

I am familiar with the embedded ball rule, but wanted to confirm that a line drive into a sod bank would be considered its "own pitch-mark"

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Quote:

Originally Posted by iacas

Off topic and easy to answer for yourself.

25-2. Embedded Ball

A ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground in any closely mown areathrough the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the coursethrough the green. “Closely mown area” means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.

I am familiar with the embedded ball rule, but wanted to confirm that a line drive into a sod bank would be considered its "own pitch-mark"

Of course it is.  If the ball is embedded in the depression it created by impact with the ground, then it's in it's pitch mark.  Why would you have any question about that?

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  • 5 months later...
In talking with @david_wedzik this morning about a chapter in Lowest Score Wins, I pointed out to him that you could not take an unplayable ball in a bunker and drop within two club lengths or on a line back from the hole to escape the bunker.

He was surprised by this, and in thinking about it, it struck neither of us as "right" given the other Rules of Golf.

This, I quickly decided (and I may rethink it later, but for now I'm sticking to it and arguing this point), is the one Rule of Golf I would change.

Why, should a bunker penalize a player more than a water hazard? I'm aware of the fact that you can play a ball out of a bunker virtually every time, and 98% of the time out of a hazard you can't even find your ball without scuba gear and a few free hours - I'm talking about when you choose to take a penalty stroke.

So imagine this.

I have a bunch of little bushes. Next to them I have a small creek. Next to that, I have a bunker.

Three players tee off and each hits a ball into the bushes, the creek, or the bunker.

Each decides to take a penalty stroke and drop back, in the fairway, on the line from the hole through their ball. Except the guy in the bunker doesn't get to do it. If he is a poor bunker player, under the Rules of Golf, he could quite literally never get out unless he opts to re-play his tee shot (stroke and distance), effectively a two-stroke penalty while the other players only suffer a one-stroke penalty.

It's still early, and I'd love to hear opposition to this, but I'm seriously considering petitioning the USGA to change this rule. I realize that bunkers are not "through the green," but all it would take is the removal of the bolded lines here:

Just remove that paragraph. What's the harm? Bunkers suck. Most players will continue to play out of them most of the time, but if your ball buries under the lip and you want to take an unplayable, why should you be penalized MORE than if your ball buries in the mud of a creek in a water hazard by having to play from the hazard again?

So in this situation my only option, other than dropping on the ice, is to take a stroke and distance penalty.

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So in this situation my only option, other than dropping on the ice, is to take a stroke and distance penalty.

Or u nder penalty of one stroke , outside the bunker keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the bunker the ball may be dropped. 25-1b(ii)b

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Or  under penalty of one stroke, outside the bunker keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the bunker the ball may be dropped. 25-1b(ii)b

Thanks for that. I haven't read thru the whole thread so the original comment was not correct then - " In talking with @ david_wedzik this morning about a chapter in Lowest Score Wins, I pointed out to him that you could not take an unplayable ball in a bunker and drop within two club lengths or on a line back from the hole to escape the bunker. "?

Also if I was a lousy bunker player can I choose this option even if the bunker was not covered by ice?

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Thanks for that. I haven't read thru the whole thread so the original comment was not correct then - "In talking with @david_wedzik this morning about a chapter in Lowest Score Wins, I pointed out to him that you could not take an unplayable ball in a bunker and drop within two club lengths or on a line back from the hole to escape the bunker."?

Also if I was a lousy bunker player can I choose this option even if the bunker was not covered by ice?

Sure, you can deem your ball unplayable any place on the course except in a water hazard.  You are the sole judge as to whether or not the ball is unplayable.

Edit:  Oops, That's embarrassing.  See below.

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Thanks for that. I haven't read thru the whole thread so the original comment was not correct then - "In talking with @david_wedzik this morning about a chapter in Lowest Score Wins, I pointed out to him that you could not take an unplayable ball in a bunker and drop within two club lengths or on a line back from the hole to escape the bunker."?

Also if I was a lousy bunker player can I choose this option even if the bunker was not covered by ice?

No.  There first needs to be interference from abnornal ground conditions (casual water in this instance) in order to drop as correctly cited by Rulesman.  If you are in a bunker without any interference and don't want to drop in the bunker, then stroke & distance is the sole option.

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No.  There first needs to be interference from abnornal ground conditions (casual water in this instance) in order to drop as correctly cited by Rulesman.  If you are in a bunker without any interference and don't want to drop in the bunker, then stroke & distance is the sole option.

Thanks all.

Sorry but I am still confused.

In the original post Iacas highlighted this -

If the unplayable ball is in a bunker , the player may proceed under Clause a, b or c. If he elects to proceed under Clause b or c, a ball must be dropped in the bunker .

This is from Rule 28 definitions

Rule 28 Ball Unplayable

Definitions

All defined terms are in italics and are listed alphabetically in the Definitions section.

The player may deem his ball unplayable at any place on the course , except when the ball is in a water hazard . The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable.

If the player deems his ball to be unplayable, he must, under penalty of one stroke :

a. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing 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 club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole .

If the unplayable ball is in a bunker , the player may proceed under Clause a, b or c. If he elects to proceed under Clause b or c, a ball must be dropped in the bunker .

When proceeding under this Rule, the player may lift and clean his ball or substitute a ball.

Rulesman quoted Section 25-1b(ii)b (Abnormal ground conditions)

(ii) In a Bunker : If the ball is in a bunker , the player must lift the ball and drop it either:

(a) Without penalty, in accordance with Clause (i) above, except that the nearest point of relief must be in the bunker and the ball must be dropped in the bunker or, if complete relief is impossible, as near as possible to the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole , on a part of the course in the bunker that affords maximum available relief from the condition; or

(b) Under penalty of one stroke , outside the bunker keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the bunker the ball may be dropped.

So what I get out of this is:

In the absence of an Abnormal ground condition, a players who's ball lands in a bunker cannot take relief outside of the bunker without incurring a stroke and distance penalty.

However if there is "Abnormal ground conditions" within the bunker the player may elect to take a one stroke penalty and play the ball outside of the bunker. This option is available to him even if there is a spot within the bunker to take relief. The only difference is that if he takes the relief within the bunker there is no stroke penalty.

SO ..... if I am on the fairway near the green but shank a lob wedge ball left into a deep bunker such it is in the face of the bunker and I cannot get a good stance, I can declare the ball as unplayable and under a penalty of one stroke replay again from my original spot (eg on the fairway near the green with the stoke AND distance penalty). As the bunker is very deep and I would have had to take a stoke to hit it out sideways anyways, by declaring the ball unplayable I will have the same number of strokes back at the original spot except I don't have the uncertainty and risk of getting it out of the bunker and onto the fairway in only one stroke.

If I am correct then this is a case where one can use the rules to their advantage. I guess we don't see this ever with the pros as they are so confident in their ability to get the ball out of the bunker from any lie.

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So what I get out of this is:

1) In the absence of an Abnormal ground condition, a players who's ball lands in a bunker cannot take relief outside of the bunker without incurring a stroke and distance penalty.

2) However if there is "Abnormal ground conditions" within the bunker the player may elect to take a one stroke penalty and play the ball outside of the bunker. This option is available to him even if there is a spot within the bunker to take relief. The only difference is that if he takes the relief within the bunker there is no stroke penalty.

1) Correct.

2) Not quite. The player may only take relief if there is interference from the abnormal ground condition

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  • 2 weeks later...
There was a time when you could have an unplayable in a bunker, if you took the distance option there was no penalty, the Open at Troon I want to say in 1950? Roberto DiVicenzo plugged his ball in the face of a bunker at No. 8, (the postage stamp) immediately went back to the tee stuffed it and made a 3... it was Whatever one the Troon was a par 70... DiVicenzo finished second... that's all I know...
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From http://www.ruleshistory.com/play.html

The blueprint for the modern unplayable rule came from:


1941 USGA. The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable. It may be declared unplayable at any place on the course, except in a water hazard or in casual water.


1947 the USGA said a ball could be declared anywhere on the course. In stroke play a ball may be lifted from any place except a water hazard, penalty one stroke.

1950 . Unplayable is defined: 'if the player consider he cannot make a stroke at it and dislodge it into a playable position'.


1952 definition dropped.

Also in 1950 penalties reduced to distance only for lost, out of bounds and unplayable. Relief either distance only or within 2 club lengths, 1 penalty stroke. Provisional ball for a ball unplayable not allowed.
For more on provisional ball, see here .

1952 Lost, Unplayable, OOB all under same rule and penalties. Player is sole judge whether his ball is unplayable, and it can be declared Unplayable anywhere. Options are stroke and distance or 2 strokes and drop back on a line. Provisional ball allowed.


1960 USGA. reduced penalty to 1 stroke and removed Provisional option.


1964 option added to drop within 2-club lengths of ball, 2 penalty strokes.


1968 R&A.; penalty reduced to 1 stroke, no provisional. Ball cannot now be declared unplayable in a water hazard.

1984 became a rule in its own right

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