Rules Junkie: Loose Impediments In A Bunker

Football isn’t the only sport that is a game of inches; the same could be said of golf. One inch this way or that, and certain trouble can be avoided, as was the case with Australian Jake McLeod last week at the Emirates Australian Open. 

Playing the par-5 16th hole at Royal Sydney Golf Club, McLeod’s second shot came to rest up against a pine cone in a fairway bunker. The rule in question was 13-4c. Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions, which reads:  

Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:

a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;

b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club; or

c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.

Because the pine cone was lying in the same hazard McLeod’s ball was, he was entitled to no relief and had to play his shot with the impediment as he found it.

Were he to have moved the impediment, it would have been a two-stroke penalty (loss of hole in match play). McLeod would go on to make bogey on the hole after acquitting himself nicely from the unfortunate situation. 



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