Rules School: Use this rule next time you have an impossible lie in a bunker

March 26, 2020

Bunkers can be difficult even for the best players in the world. The 2019 PGA Tour leader in sand save percentage (Francesco Molinari) only converted 65 percent of the time, while Tour average is 50 percent.

As you can see, even under the best of conditions, effectively escaping from the bunker is no easy task. But sometimes, getting out of a bunker can be borderline impossible. Luckily, under the updated Rules of Golf, you have options if you get stuck in an impossible spot.

Scenario: Your ball ends up in a tough spot in a bunker, rendering getting the ball out nearly impossible.

Old rule: No relief outside of the bunker unless you replay your ball from the previous spot under the stroke-and-distance provision, resulting in a one-stroke penalty.

New rule: Now under Rule 19.3, you have three additional options for relief.

1. Back-on-the-line relief in the bunker
The player may draw an imaginary line between their ball and the hole and go back on that line to drop anywhere in the bunker for a one-stroke penalty.

2. Lateral relief in the bunker
The player may take lateral relief in the bunker within one club length of their ball for a one-stroke penalty.

3. Back-on-the-line relief outside the bunker
The player may draw an imaginary line between their ball and the hole and go back on that line to drop anywhere outside the bunker for a two-stroke penalty.

Some bunkers can seem impossible, but you can use this rule if you see no other way out.

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