No.77 Bunker Steps

In the photo a player's ball has come to rest on sand below artificially covered steps leading into a bunker.
Question 1:
Is the ball lying inside the margin of the bunker?

Question 2:
Is the player entitled to take relief from these steps?

Question 3:
There is no area in the bunker that is not closer to the hole where the steps do not interfere with the player's area of intended swing. What are the player's options?

Answer 1:
Yes, the ball lies on a prepared area where the turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand. Definition of Bunker.

Answer 2:
Yes, the steps are artificially covered and are therefore immovable obstructions that would obviously interfere with the player's swing area.

Answer 3:
Unless the player chooses to play the ball as it lies (e.g. backwards out of the bunker) their options are to take a penalty of one stroke and play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (Rule 28a), or drop a 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 the ball may be dropped.Rule 24-2b(ii)b.

Note: This bunker has been poorly designed. It would be less confusing and more equitable if the area between the grass sides at the foot of the bunker (where the ball lies) had been artificially covered in the same way as the steps.

Question 4:
A right-handed player claims that an artificially covered step into a bunker interferes with the stance they would like to take in playing their ball lying outside the bunker, although it is clear that they could play the ball by closing their stance and playing their ball off their back foot. May they take relief without penalty by dropping their ball outside the bunker within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole?

Question 5:
If a player is standing in a bunker to play their ball lying outside the bunker may they ground their club?

Answer 4:
Yes, as their ball lies outside the bunker the player may take relief from the immovable obstruction that interferes with their normal stance, without penalty. Rule 24-2a.

Answer 5:
Yes, Rule 13-4 does not apply when the player's ball lies outside the hazard.


Another 'Rhodes Rules School' Q&A will follow next week,
Good golfing,