Touching the sand in the bunker (Rule 12)
Previously, touching the sand in the bunker before the stroke was not permitted, except for very few exceptions.
Now, touching the sand incidentally is basically allowed, i.e. you are permitted to lean on your club. However, you are still not allowed to test the condition of the sand before the stroke is played, improve the line of play, ground the club in front of or behind the ball or touch the sand during practice swings.
Good to know: You therefore now do not have to be extra careful in bunkers, especially if you are not very close to the ball.
Loose impediments (Rule 15)
Previously, touching leaves, twigs, stones, branches and other loose impediments in bunkers was not allowed.
Now, you can remove them anywhere without penalty, including in bunkers.
Good to know: Please bear in mind that the ball is still not allowed to move when removing loose impediments.
Unplayable ball in the bunker (Rule 19)
Previously, the player had three dropping options – each incurring one penalty stroke – if he declared his ball in a bunker unplayable.
Now, a fourth option is available. You can also drop the ball directly behind the bunker. However, this option costs two penalty strokes instead of just one.
Good to know: You can use this option to avoid playing a bunker shot at all but in most cases it will not be worth it.