There are many hazards on most golf courses – some watery and some sandy. Most golf courses have at least a few bunkers; some have considerably more than others. However many there are where you play, even the straightest of hitters will find themselves in the sand at some stage, so knowing what you can and can’t do is essential.
Here are the essential golf bunker rules ‘do’s and don’ts’ for when you find yourself in the sand.
Most golfers know you can’t ground your club in a hazard, nor touch the sand with your hand. However, touching or brushing the sand with your club on your backswing is also a breach. All breaches incur a two-stroke penalty in stroke play and loss of hole in match play.
However, if you aren’t certain which club you’re going to use, and take two or more into the bunker, you may lay the extra clubs down in the sand once you’ve decided, provided nothing is done to test the condition of the hazard or improve the lie off the ball.
Equally, you can take your bag, or even trolley, in with you, and while that may sound a little silly, on modern courses with vast expanses of sand, it could be a time-saver.
But you’ll probably attract comment from other golfers, and suspicious looks from greenkeepers, so while it’s perfectly legal, we wouldn’t recommend it generally.
If you stumble as you enter a bunker and use a club to prevent yourself from falling, that is fine – there is no penalty.
Finally, there is, since the 2019 revisions, an extra option for an unplayable ball in the bunker. Everything is detailed here: Unplayable ball in a bunker but essentially, if you want to drop the ball back on a line between the unplayable lie and the flag, you can now drop it outside the bunker but this will cost you two penalty shots.
Finally, if sand play still proves an issue despite a sound knowledge of the Rules, you can always check out the Golf Monthly website for a host of bunker play advice from Peter Uihlein and others!
You’ll also find more great Rules advice in our dedicated Rules section, with more videos in association with The R&A in the pipeline.