When is a Bunker Not a Bunker

Most of us think that we know a bunker when we see one. Well, it may not be quite as simple as you think. Whilst we at Harvey only have a small number of bunkers confronting us in our round of golf, many of us travel to other courses where some of the following may apply.

Lets start by referencing the¬†Definition of Bunker; ¬†A “bunker is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand of the like.

Grass-covered ground bordering or within a bunker, including a stacked turf face (whether grass-covered or earthen), is not part of the bunker. A wall or lip of the bunker not covered with grass is part of the bunker. The margin of a bunker extends vertically downwards, but not upwards.

A ball is in a bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker.

There are several points to note here;

  • A stacked turf bunker face is not part of the bunker.
  • A natural, earth wall of a bunker is part of the bunker, even though there may be no sand left on it.
  • An artificial wall of a bunker (e.g. lined with wooden sleepers) is an immovable obstruction, unless a Local Rule makes the construction integral to the course.
  • A ball that enters an abnormal ground condition (e.g. a hole made by a burrowing animal) in a bunker, rolls underneath and past the margin of the bunker, is not in the bunker, because it is outside the margin, which extends downwards.
  • A ball that partly touches grass that is outside the bunker and sand that is inside the bunker is in the bunker.

Some Decisions on bunkers reveal further points;

  • Sand that has spilled over the margin of the bunker is not part of the bunker, Decision 13/1.
  • A ball that lies on the edge of the bunker, overhanging the lip but not touching the sand, is not in the bunker, because the margin does not extend vertically upwards.
  • A ball that is completely embedded in the vertical lip of a bunker that is not grass-covered is in the bunker, so there is no relief for an embedded ball, Decision 13/4.
  • A ball that is lying on any type of obstruction in a bunker (e.g. a rake, or exposed plastic lining) is in the bunker, Decision 13/5

Happy golfing and try to stay out of the bunkers!