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Golf Rules 2019 – What’s new in bunkers?

Golf Rules 2019 – What’s new in bunkers?

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.

15 Responses to Golf Rules 2019 – What’s new in bunkers?

  1. Bill Whitten June 11, 2019 at 4:08 pm #

    I’m confused abut “touching the sand”. What do you mean by “you can lean on your club”? Who ever leans on their club?

    • G June 22, 2019 at 11:30 am #

      If it’s a steep bunker, sometimes you need to use the club as a cane to keep from falling.

    • Tony McCann June 30, 2019 at 3:22 am #

      By leaning on your club, you can tell how deep the sand is/texture of the sand. This is and additional “FEEL” to using your feet.

  2. delaney June 11, 2019 at 7:55 pm #

    lots of people. ever watch golf on tv?

  3. Merv June 12, 2019 at 4:40 pm #

    How about if I hit my 3rd shot on a par 5 and saw the splash in the pond so I hit a provo but when I got there the ball had jumped out of the pond can I play that shot without penalty?

    • Kim Cross June 30, 2019 at 9:26 pm #

      If the ball is not in the hazard, yes. If the ball jumped out of the pond but is still in a marked hazard area, no.

      • Marilyn Baker September 14, 2019 at 4:50 pm #

        No, not under normal rules of golf. There used to be a local rule that the club could adopt which let you hit a provisional ball if it might be lost in a hazard, Not sure if it is still a “legal” local rule. It was used to speed up play.

  4. Alfredo June 19, 2019 at 3:42 pm #

    I don’t think a player can nominate to hit a provisional ball if its virtually certain that – his/her first shot “splashed” into a water hazard (penalty area) or finished out of bounds.

    • Ben McGrath June 29, 2019 at 10:45 am #

      You can hit a provisional for a ball that may or may not be OB. For a ball landing in a penalty area you should not hit a provisional. Either you find the ball or use the options for the penalty area. These options have changed in 2019 and are different for a red and a yellow penalty area.

  5. Mitch June 24, 2019 at 8:58 am #

    What is allowed when your ball is in the sand trap but under 3 inches of water due to the rains that morning? Can you move the ball so as not to incur a penalty stroke?

  6. Charles Ward June 29, 2019 at 9:22 am #

    If a tee shot lands in a penalty area (Water pond) Can player elect to tee up ball and hit 3 from the tee?

    • Kim Cross June 30, 2019 at 9:27 pm #


  7. Franc July 26, 2019 at 2:21 pm #

    What is the proper play when you hit a shot into a bunker and it’s held up on the slope by a rake?

  8. john carco October 9, 2019 at 7:34 pm #

    if there is a deep foot print in a bunker and your ball is in the footprint can you smooth the footprint?

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