The Do’s and Don’ts Of Bunker Play

One of the first rules every golfer learns is to not ground their club in the bunker. But what if you accidentally drop your club? What if you throw an extra club in the sand next to you? What if there are artificial and/or natural objects in my way?

In the video below, Swing-U instructor Josh Kelley takes us through some of the “do’s and don’ts” of bunker play.

  • A movable obstruction is an artificial object that can be easily removed, can be moved from the hazard without penalty per Rule 24-1
  • Loose impediments are natural objects that are not fixed or growing, not solidly embedded and not adhering to your ball. If a player’s ball lies in a hazard, the player must not touch or move any loose impediment lying in or touching the same hazard, Rule 13-4c.
  • Rule 13-3 states that “a player is entitled to place his feet firmly in taking a stance, but he must not build a stance,” and while this Rule applies anywhere on the golf course, perhaps the most obvious place to illustrate it is when your ball has come to rest up a steep bunker face, and getting in position to play your next shot will be tricky.
  • Rule 13-4 prohibits a player from grounding a club only “before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard.” Once a golfer hits the ball out of the bunker, there is no penalty for touching the sand with his club.


  1. Provided nothing is done that constitutes testing the condition of the hazard or improves the lie of the ball, there is no penalty if the player (a) touches the ground or loose impediments in any hazard or water in a water hazard as a result of or to prevent falling, in removing an obstruction, in measuring or in marking the position of, retrieving, lifting, placing or replacing a ball under any Rule or (b) places his clubs in a hazard.
  2. At any time, the player may smooth sand or soil in a hazard provided this is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. If a ball played from a hazard is outside the hazard after the stroke, the player may smooth sand or soil in the hazard without restriction.
  3. If the player makes a stroke from a hazard and the ball comes to rest in another hazard, Rule 13-4a does not apply to any subsequent actions taken in the hazard from which the stroke was made.


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