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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

Categories: Rules, Spotlight | Posted: March 14, 2012 | No Comments »

Q. A player’s ball lies in a bunker and a rake has been left in another part of the bunker. Prior to making his stroke in the bunker, the player retrieves the rake. Having lifted the rake, the player smoothes the footprints that he has just created, and some others in the process. What is the ruling?__________________________________________

Yes the Rules of Golf can be fun. The Referee likes to spend evenings perusing through Decisions on the Rules of Golf for the strange, interesting and sometimes funny facts. Here is the latest I like to refer to as: I Only Did it Once, I swear… 

Decision 13-4/9: Player Creates and Smoothes Footprints in Bunker Prior to Making Stroke

Q. A player’s ball lies in a bunker and a rake has been left in another part of the bunker. Prior to making his stroke in the bunker, the player retrieves the rake. Having lifted the rake, the player smoothes the footprints that he has just created, and some others in the process. What is the ruling?

A. There is no penalty, provided the smoothing was done for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing was done to breach Rule 13-2 in relation to the player’s next stroke (see Exception 2 to Rule 13-4).

If, however, a player is regularly creating and smoothing footprints close to his ball prior to making strokes from bunkers, it would be appropriate to question the player about the purpose of the smoothing. In such circumstances, the smoothing might be for the purpose of gaining knowledge of the condition of the bunker rather than being for the sole purpose of caring for the course. If so, the player would be in breach of Rule 13-4a for testing the condition of the hazard.

The USGA, in conjunction with The R&A in St. Andrews, Scotland, writes, interprets and maintains the Rules of Golf to guard the tradition and integrity of the game. The two organizations are joint authors and owners of The Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf. Through an agreement with The R&A, the Rules jurisdiction of the USGA includes only the United States, its possessions and Mexico.

To learn more about The Rules of Golf check out the Rules and Decision section of the USGA’s website.

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