Part I: What’s the Ruling?

Mark Oswald
General Manager
The Highlands at Dove Mountain in Marana, AZ.
Marana, AZ

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Part I: What’s the Ruling?
How well do you know the rules of golf? You can win or lose based on your knowledge of the rules. Learn the rules and improve your score.

Can you take relief for an unplayable ball in the bunker? YES!

What are your options? 
Rule 28: Ball Unplayable.

1. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5”20-5); or

2. Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind that point the ball may be dropped; or

3. Drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole.

If the unplayable ball is in a bunker, the player may proceed under Clause a, b or c. If he elects to proceed under Clause b or c, a ball must be dropped in the bunker.

In the recent British Open, Tiger Woods elected to play a bunker shot that was buried and up against the wall of the bunker. He had the option of taking an unplayable lie and dropping the ball within two club lengths no nearer to the hole that would have given him a clear shot at the pin. He could have gotten this up and down and made a bogey. Instead, he elected to hit the shot that hit the edge and almost hit him in the bunker. Again, the ball came to rest close to the edge of the bunker and left him with a very difficult shot and low odds on getting it near the hole. He hit this shot that again hit the face of the bunker and rebounded to the right and ended up on the green with a long bogey putt. Tiger not only missed the bogey putt but missed the following putt and walked away with a triple bogey and a crushed spirit that made it almost impossible to come back into contention in the British Open.

You address your ball and the ball moves prior to you beginning your swing.  What is the ruling?
Rule 18 – 2: Ball Moving After Address.

If a player’s ball in play moves after he has addressed it (other than as a result of a stroke), the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke.

The ball must be replaced, unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.

Part II of “What’s the Ruling” will be continued in the September/October issue of Arizona Golfer.

For more information on Driver Fitting or assistance with your golf game, contact Mark Oswald at or visit