Rules Guy: Is tomahawking a club in a bunker a penalty?

May 24, 2019
Man in golf course bunker.

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

A member of our group has a reputation for throwing clubs. After a bunker blast that stayed in the bunker, he tomahawked his wedge into the sand. Does this cost him a penalty shot for grounding the club? —William Neal, Outer Banks, N.C.

This vexed individual might be in luck. Rule 12.2b(2) covers the ways you can touch the sand in a bunker without sustaining a penalty. Striking the sand in anger is one such exception, providing you haven’t improved any conditions that might be involved in the next stroke. Pre-2019 Rules, the only potential sanction was a DQ for serious misconduct. Now there’s another possibility: Committees can adopt a local rule that applies a one- or two-stroke penalty for behavioral issues. Best solution: Grow up.