Rules Guy: After hitting from a bunker, can you quickly rake it if your ball is about to roll back in?

March 3, 2020
Fred couples hits a shot from the bunker at the 2020 Cologuard Classic

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 player hits a bunker shot, which flies from the bunker but upon landing begins to roll back toward it. The quick-thinking player rakes his footprints and the adjacent sand. Sure enough, the ball returns to its original location. Does this rake job breach Rule 12.2b(3)? —KIM FROM KOREA, VIA E-MAIL

That depends on how quick the player — or his caddie — can move! Per the rule you correctly cite — props from Rules Guy — as long as the ball remains outside the bunker, the restrictions for a ball in the bunker don’t apply, so smooth away. But drop that rake like a hot potato before the ball is back in the bunker or it’s the general penalty of two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

Want more Rules Guy?
Can I use glasses to access the materials in my green-reading book?
Are you allowed to walk up and watch the group ahead putt?
What do you do when several balls deflect off each other?
Can you check a bunker’s depth with a tee?