My Peeps

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Golf Ruling in Sand Trap

Here is a great question about the rules of golf that I received form a reader recently....

I have a rules question. On my last trip to Myrtle Beach I encountered a sand trap issue. I hit my ball into the sand and it plugged. All that was visible was my mark on the ball. The person that I was playing with hit his ball in the sand trap just in front of my ball (less than one inch) directly in the line to the flag. He insisted that I must hit my ball first as it was the furthest away from the hole. When I hit my ball I also inadvertantly hit his and both balls landed on the green my ball landed about 8 feet from the hole and his rolled to about 4 feet. He insisted that he could play the ball where it landed after I hit it. I believe that he should have picked up his ball in the trap and replaced it after my sand shot. As a result I lost the hole but ended up winning the match. Who if anyone was right in this matter? -Jack Casionman

Great question, I love it.

From your wording I am assuming this was match play.

First of all, congratulations on hitting two balls simultaneously within 8 feet of the hole from a bunker! I am sure you will never do this again, and here is why.

Your opponent was correct in having you play first, HOWEVER... You were fully within the rule 22-2 Ball Interfering with Play, to ask him to mark his ball even though it was in a bunker. He may not CLEAN his ball, as he is not on the putting surface.

It is VERY important that you ASK the opponent to mark the ball. If said opponent marks the ball without your request, no matter how obvious it may be, than under rule 18-2-a your opponent would receive a one stroke penalty.

In regards to marking his ball, he would use a marker just as though he was on the green. If the marker were in your way when attempting to hit your ball, you may further ask him to move the mark appropriately (similarly if you were on the green, and someones marker were in your line).

You would then hit your shot.

When your opponent is replacing his ball, he is allowed and MUST recreate as close as possible the lie that he originally had. see rule 20-3-b-iii. Keep in mind that golf etiquette, would require YOU to fix your mess in the sand, then the opponent's ball would be placed by your opponent upon your repair of the bunker and the lie must be recreated as close to possile as the original lie.


Under Rule 18-3-b you would be subject to a one stroke penalty for causing an opponents ball that is in play to move. Secondly your opponents ball MUST be replaced where it originally was, meaning he does NOT get a free ride out of the trap. Being the polite golfer that you are, you would of course rake the bunker and fix your tracks, before your opponent places his ball back in the bunker.


This instance does not qualify unde rule 15-3 Playing the Wrong Ball, because you clearly knew that your ball was the imbedded one, and you clearly knew the visible ball was your opponents.

The way I am interpreting your question is to say that YES you were right and your opponent was indeed wrong, however the key to the whole thing is that YOU had to ask your opponent to mark the ball, he/she could not just automatically mark it.

Also, since you were playing match play under rule 20-7-b Playing From Wrong Place your opponent would have LOST THE HOLE, since he played his ball from the green, and not from the bunker, where he should have replaced it to begin with.


  1. Wow! what a question! I've heard of some golf situations before but that's amazing. Trick shot almost.
    Well answered, I wasn't sure what was supposed to happen.

  2. Golfers who struggle with their games of sand, which is unfortunate. For professionals, is one of sand from the simplest golf shots. Many pros prefer to be in the sand if they miss a green in contrast to the raw. When you play at the bunker, your lies are more consistent, you know generally what you do. When it hits the chip or not pulled out of the rough, as the lie, and how long the rough is, different outcomes result easier.

  3. I've had this happen to me before and both I and the guy I was playing with questioned the lie in the bunker. Great questions and an even better answer. Thanks for the knowledge!

  4. A tee shot on a par 3 lands in a bunker. The ball cannot be found. Where does the player hit his next shot from?