In A Golf Bunker, Is This A Penalty?

So I got a really good question about grounding your golf club in a bunker.  A lot of amateur golfers know that you can’t ground your club in a bunker or it’s two stroke penalty.  But sometimes we try to tweak the rules a little to our benefit.  One reader asked if he scrapes the sand with his golf club on the backswing but isn’t testing the bunker or grounding his club prior to his swing, is it still a penalty?

This is one of those areas where the Rules of Golf seem maybe a little too arbitrary or punitive.  But the rules are the rules as they say.

Rule 13 deals with this, specifically 13-4 discusses a golf ball in a hazard and prohibited actions.  But it is Decision 13-4/31 (yes they have more information about the rules as well!) that deals with this.

The real clarification is when the golfer is determined to have “made his stroke”  Rule 13-4b prohibits touching the ground with your golf club in a hazard, prior to making your stroke.  And in the defintions (yes more info) a stroke is considered “forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball”.  So the backswing doesn’t count.

I know, it’s picky right?  But over the history of the game, golfers who love the game have had to deal with it.  And we today have to as well.  The key is knowing the rules, which it seems more and more golfers these days know them in a convenient fashion.  Meaning they remember the rules to support their situation on the course.

I don’t profess to know them and have them all memorized.  But I do constantly check them and remind myself and refresh myself on the rules.  And all of you readers help me with great questions like this one.

Good golfing to everyone until next time.

There Are 4 Responses So Far. »

  1. Hate to disagree but I think by your statements, the backswing does count. If you contact the ground on the backswing, this is prior to the stroke, and therefore prohibited by the rule.

  2. I was maybe too hasty; if by saying the backswing doesn’t count you mean that it is not part of the stroke I agree. If it is not part of the stroke, it has to be prior to the stroke, thus the penalty is incurred.

  3. Why are my golf shots going right. I tried to adjust my grip to a stronger grip but to no avail?

  4. Grounding your club in a bunker or hazard requires a penalty,what a rediculous rule.How could this in anyway improve the outcome of the shot from pro to the high handicapper.I feel this rule needs to be reviewed. To me it is like penalising someone for licking the end of their finger to feel the wind direction.

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