That's Not Fair!
Sometimes after a heavy rain, the grounds crew can be faced with the daunting task of restoring the bunkers. However, what do you do if you hit your ball into one of these washout areas before the grounds crew has a chance to restore the bunker?
Has that ever happened to you? What’s the ruling?
Let’s start where most of the answers are found in the Rules of Golf and that’s in the definitions. 90% of the answers to your questions start in the definitions. If you don’t know the definitions, the index can point you in the right direction.
The definition of an abnormal ground condition includes “any casual water, ground under repair or hole, cast or runway on the course made by a burrowing animal, a reptile or a bird”.
It is not casual water nor is it a hole, cast or runway on the course made by a burrowing animal, a reptile or a bird. However, it falls into the category of ground under repair as “any part of the course so marked by order of the Committee or so declared by its authorized representative.” That puts it under the umbrella of an “abnormal ground condition” and thus within the direction of Rule 25.
Rule 25 tells us that you get free relief from interference from an abnormal ground condition when your ball lies on the putting green, through the green or in a bunker. If your ball lies in a water hazard or lateral water hazard, you get no relief.
So, free relief in a bunker sounds good, right? Well, not so fast.
If you want free relief, you find the nearest point of relief from the condition and drop the ball within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than that point. The problem is that you must stay in the bunker if you want free relief. Depending on if you are a good dropper or not, you could end up with a good lie, a bad lie or even a fried egg! Take the good with the bad.
And what if you’re just a lousy bunker player? Under a one stroke penalty, Rule 25 allows you to drop the ball 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 you drop. You might go back to your favorite yardage, taking your chances, and drop the ball there with a one stroke penalty instead of leaving it in the bunker a couple times.
Remember, use the definitions, index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.