No.79 Balls and Bunkers

A player finds a ball plugged in a bunker but cannot see their identification mark on the part of the ball that is visible to them.

Question 1:
Is the player permitted to lift the ball to identify whether it is their ball, or not?

Question 2:
If they play the ball from the bunker and then find that it is not their ball do they incur a penalty?

Answer 1:
Yes. But they must follow the procedure detailed in Rule 12-2.

Answer 2:
Yes. Two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play. Rule 15-3b.


In the photo the player's ball lies outside the bunker.
Question 3:
If the ball is embedded may the player take relief without penalty?

Question 4:
a) May the player take their stance in the bunker to make their stroke?
b) May the player ground their club lightly in the bunker before making their stroke?

Answer 3:
No, because the grass bank is not cut to fairway height. Decision 25-2/5.
Note: Even when there is a Local Rule permitting relief for a ball embedded through the green, there will probably be an exception stating that a player may not take relief under this Local Rule if the ball is embedded in sand in an area that is not closely mown; which might be relevant in the photo above. This is the case in the specimen Local Rule in Appendix l, Part B, 4a.

Answer 4:
a) Yes.
b) Yes. Decision 13-4/1.
Another 'Rhodes Rules School' Q&A will follow next week,
Good golfing,